The Voxel8 3D printer was named one of the nine best innovations at the recent 2015 Consumers Electronic Show (CES) by Fast Company. Introduced at CES, the Voxel8 3D printer is considered the world’s first electronics printing platform with the capability to create electrical circuitry in 3D printed physical or mechanical objects.
The Voxel8 3D printer utilizes a silver ink which the company, Voxel8, states is 5000 times more conductive than carbon-based inks. Voxel8 plans to develop additional materials to additively manufacture resistors, dielectrics, stretchable electronics and sensors, and even lithium batteries using the same platform.
We caught up with Daniel Oliver, Co-founder & Business Development Lead, to learn more about this exciting platform in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A session.
AMazing®: Daniel, thank you for your participation. This must be a very busy time at Voxel8 with the recent introduction of the Voxel8 3D printer at CES, a new pre-order campaign and dynamic website. How has the response been so far to the world’s first electronic 3D printer?
Daniel: We have been overwhelmed with the public response. Our booth at CES was inundated with people and we were flattered to be named one of the top 9 innovations of CES by Fast Company. It has been really energizing to connect with customers and hear all their great ideas for 3D electronics.
AMazing®: As we understand the conductive inks which are offered with the Voxel8 have been leveraged off a decade of research by Harvard Professor Jennifer A. Lewis and the Lewis Group. Would you talk about the conductive inks which Voxel8 currently offers and those on the horizon?
Daniel: At Voxel8 it is all about the materials. Our first generation inks are 5000x more conductive than conductive pastes and filaments currently used in 3D printing. They are also formulated to print and cure at room temperature which allows them to be co-printed with other materials. This allows us to embed electronics directly into your print.
AMazing®: When it comes to depositing a trace, what makes Voxel8 tracing capability so precise.
Daniel: Voxel8 inks are specifically formulated for precise deposition. They dry quickly at room temperature and exhibit exceptional electrical conductivity. These properties allow our conductive inks to be co-printed with traditional thermoplastic materials.
To support our inks we have created a pneumatic ink dispensing system designed to ensure precise repeatable traces. The pneumatic system uses compressed air to drive ink flow out of the cartridge, enabling controlled volumetric flow and clean starts and stops. This technology allows one to pattern closely spaced, conductive traces without short circuiting.
Video courtesy of Voxel8
AMazing®: As we understand Voxel8’s software stack-slicer Euclid is specifically designed for printing multi-material models. What differentiates Euclid from other slicers?
Daniel: At the heart of any 3D printing software stack is the slicer, which is the code responsible for turning a 3D model into tool path commands that the printer executes to build your part. Voxel8 has created a new slicer, Euclid, from the ground up that is specifically designed for printing multi-material models.
Euclid differentiates itself by having intelligence about the types of materials it is printing. For instance Euclid knows the difference between conductive ink and PLA insuring no breaks in the conductive ink path that would cause short circuits.
AMazing®: Have you had an opportunity to see an application with electrical traces, which really caught your attention, and would not have been possible without the use of Voxel8 3D printer technology? If so, what made it unique?
Daniel: Our engineering team has been working very hard to create really interesting demonstrations. One that has garnered a lot of attention is the Voxel8 Quadcopter. The Voxel8 Quadcopter is unique because we were able to print not only the structural elements of the quadcopter but also the electrical traces connecting all the electrical components.
This ability to embed electronics simplifies the design and manufacturing process, eliminating the need for complicated wiring harnesses and tedious assembly.
AMazing®: Shifting gears to education, what career advice would you offer an individual interested in working with additive manufacturing technologies?
Daniel: I would strongly suggest seeking a degree in the sciences or engineering, and in the meantime start experimenting with printers wherever you can find them. There are so many schools, libraries and makerspaces with printers today. They all offer great opportunities to learn about the technology first hand.
AMazing®: Finally, how will Voxel8’s Developer Kit evolve over the next few years? What do you hope to see?
Daniel: We are excited to get feedback from the community on what they are creating and making. We want to make sure as we improve this technology, we are doing it hand in hand with our customers.
We are also excited to offer new sets of materials in the future. We have built this printer as a modular platform with swappable cartridges so that new materials will work seamlessly on the same hardware.
This concludes our interview. Daniel, thank you very much for your participation. We are very grateful for the opportunity to learn about Voxel8 and the world’s first 3D electronic printer.
About Daniel Oliver, Business Development Lead
Dan Oliver is a former systems engineer with Honeywell Aerospace and founder of Intelligent Mobility International, a social entrepreneurship enterprise he established to provide long-lasting, low-cost wheelchairs throughout the world.
After earning his MBA from the Harvard Business School, Dan was a Blavatnik Fellow, where he spent a year commercializing science from the Lewis Lab. Dan received his B.S. in Mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology.
Voxel8, a Somerville, MA company, exists to disrupt the design and manufacturing of functional parts by providing new materials, 3D printing platforms, and software.
Voxel8 allows designers and engineers to print their imagination via multi-material 3D printing. Leveraging over a decade of research from Harvard Professor Jennifer A. Lewis, Voxel8 is creating the enabling technology required to directly print functional parts, including 3D electronics.
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Co-founder & Business Development Lead
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