PCB prototyping & 3D printing with circuits

11 January 2016

We look at the latest machines from Volera and Voxel8 that are looking to make prototyping PCBs in your workshop much easier

Voltera V-One

Product: V-One
Supplier: Voltera
Price: $2,199 (expected)

Voltera hit KickStarter earlier this year, raising a cool half million dollars through the crowdfunding process.

Its machine looks damned impressive for those looking to build prototype Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) in the workshop. It’s a small form factor device that uses a numerically controlled method to lay down conductive ink onto a standard FR4 board (that’s a glass-reinforced epoxy laminate sheet to you and me).

The company is looking to take advantage of the CNC nature of the beast and add in some nifty tricks along the way.

One is that it can handle two-layer boards, adding in insulating ink to build bridges where needed. Another is that the same mechanism is used to dispense solder paste.

Once you’ve got your components in place, the machine will reflow the solder and it’s done.

While it doesn’t cut the boards to size or add in mounting features, it handles pretty much everything else in a form factor that’ll handle boards with dimensions up to 138mm x 105mm x 3mm.
voltera.io


Voxel8

Product: Voxel8 Developer’s kit
Supplier: voxel8
Price: $8,999

While the Voltera machine focuses on the manufacture of traditional PCB components, the Voxel8 is solely-focused on combining 3D printing and the incorporation of conductive filaments.

Essentially, the goal is to selectively lay down, in a single build, both standard filaments for structural elements (currently using PLA) and conductive silver ink that will allow you to build circuitry directly into your components.

While it’s still at the developer kit stage, the package looks interesting, particularly when you consider that the company has linked up with Autodesk to develop a specialised software system, Autodesk Wire 3D, to help with the whole process.

That specialised software is going to be fundamental, as knife-and-forking a job involving multiple bodies in most CAD systems is a royal pain in the arse.

The machine is currently available for order and will ship in March 2016.
voxel8.co

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