Researchers at the University of Nottingham have pioneered a breakthrough method to rapidly 3D print fully functional electronic circuits.
The circuits, which contain electrically-conductive metallic inks and insulating polymeric inks, can now be produced in a single inkjet printing process where a UV light rapidly solidifies the inks.
The breakthrough technique paves the way for the electronics manufacturing industry to produce fully functional components such as 3D antennae and fully printed sensors from multiple materials including metals and plastics.
The new method combines 2D printed electronics with Additive Manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing – which is based on layer-by-layer deposition of materials to create 3D products. This expands the impact of Multifunctional Additive Manufacturing (MFAM), which involves printing multiple materials in a single additive manufacturing system to create components that have broader functionalities.
The breakthrough has established an underpinning technology which has potential for growth in academia and industry. The project has led to several collaborations to develop medical devices, radio frequency shielding surfaces and novel structures for harvesting solar energy.