Nano Dimension survey reveals potentials for 3D printing PCB prototypes

Apr 26, 2016 | By Tess

3D printed electronics company, Nano Dimension, has been in the news a lot lately, as they’ve filed a number of patents for potentially disruptive technologies, including a patent for the creation of 3D printed shielded conductors in printed circuit boards (PCBs), as well as for the simultaneous sintering and curing of two types of ink for 3D printed electronics, which could simplify the manufacturing of electronic circuit boards. Recently, the Israeli based company also released the findings of a survey conducted by them which shows the benefits 3D printing could offer companies for the prototyping of PCBs.

The “Printer Readiness Survey” asked nearly 300 electronic manufacturing companies from around the world a number of questions about their experiences with the manufacturing of printed circuit board prototypes. The findings from the survey indicated that most of these companies were employing external services to create the prototypes, and were investing large amounts of money and time into the production of them.

For instance, out of the 300 companies, 16% reported having spent more than $100,000 a year on PCB prototypes, 17% spent between $50,000 and $100,000, 44% spent between $10,000 and $50,000, and only 23% spent less than $10,000 on the manufacturing of PCB prototypes per year.

The next question in the survey, “Do you use short-run, low-volume external PCB prototyping services?”, resulted with an overwhelming 93% saying they did use external PCB services at some point each year. Additionally, 62% of the participating companies reported that the PCBs they were prototyping possess high layer counts, meaning that the PCBs are more complexly designed and require more time and money to manufacture.

When asked whether they were worried about the security of their intellectual property when they employed external companies and services to prototype their circuit boards, 63% of the electronic manufacturing companies replied that they were. Other concerns that arose about sending PCB prototype plans to external companies were production time, high costs, and the possibility of delays bringing the final product to market because of the time needed to rework prototypes.

In sum, what the survey has shown is that there is room for improvement both in terms of the time and cost of making PCB prototypes, which could potentially be brought about by the implementation of 3D printed PCBs and electronics.

Simon Fried, the Chief Business Officer at Nano Dimension, says, “The off-site PCB prototyping process is rife with downsides: it’s expensive, it’s time consuming, and it puts intellectual property at risk. The market has seen 3D printers rapidly prototype other kinds of products and the results of our survey reflect a market that is ready for 3D printing to now usher in a new era of PCB engineering. The time is now for engineers to print their own quality multilayer PCB prototypes in house- cheaply and quickly.”

Nano Dimension, Ltd. was founded in 2012 and has remained at the fore of 3D printed electronics, combining 3D inkjet, 3D software and nanomaterials in its innovative products.

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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