My following article below was originally published by SERIOUS WONDER:
“We are creating a future where what you print is limited solely by your imagination, not your printer.” These are the words of 3D printing company Voxel8, who partnered up with both Autodesk and Braemer Energy Ventures to successfully engineer the very first 3D printer for electronic devices. Imagine having the capability to replace your phone, drone, or any other device with the simple use of a 3D printer! Not only did Voxel8 promise this future, they’ve already delivered it.
“No longer do you need a PCB and an injection molded enclosure, but now you can seamlessly integrate the two in one part. Long-term our next-generation manufacturing platform will change the traditional models of production.” – Michael Bell, Co-founder of Voxel8
Using a newly designed, highly conductive ink known as Silver Ink, which is 5,000x more conductive than any other conductive filaments in the market today, the company is able to print electronic devices at room temperature using their 3D printer. Their partnership with Autodesk, using their software, has allowed them to engineer 3D printers capable of printing functional objects embedded with circuitry and electrical components.
The Voxel8 3D printer uses interchangeable cartridges for an infinite combination of both materials and inks. Their onboard pneumatic dispense system provides high precision, direct-writing of conductive ink, all while their kinematically coupled bed provides easy insertion of embedded circuitry during print. To top it all off, the 3D printer contains a 4.3″ touch screen display that will help guide you in component placement and orientation of the materials during the printing process.
Voxel8 is currently accepting pre-orders for their 3D printer, with a set price of $8,999. You have the choice of putting a $500 deposit down beforehand (with the remaining $8,499 for later dates), granting you eventual access to their 3D printer once it ships later this year, or you can pay the entire $8,999 upfront and be given early access, plus 2x more PLA filament spools, 2x more extra ink cartridges, an additional print bed, and early access to newer materials as they’re developed.
“In the next few years we’ll move to our next manufacturing platform – a commercial and industrial-scale, fully automated 3D electronics platform…We’ll start seeing less dependence on foreign manufacturing techniques that value cheap labor over automation, and start seeing a shift in where and how complex electromechanical devices are made and designed.” – Michael Bell
On Star Wars Episode II, there was a scene where C-3PO stumbles upon an underground factory of larger machines creating smaller machines. The exact words he used were, “Machines making machines? How perverse.” And yet, when you think of the capability that the Voxel8 displays – after all, the Voxel8 is a machine creating other machines – you realize that it isn’t so much perverse, as it is absolutely liberating!
Soon there won’t be a necessity for different corporations trying to sell their own brand of devices to consumers. No longer will we fall into the trap of deciding which phone is better – Google’s or Apple’s. Instead the consumer will be empowered with the ability to decide for themselves not only what they want, but how they wish to design it. Eventually the means of production will be re-distributed into the hands of the common consumer, sparking a technological revolution like nothing we’ve seen before throughout history.