BotFactory is a more recent—and very relevant—startup that we’ve covered, as they plunged into the industry with a bang on Kickstarter with Squink, the 3D printer that allows you to integrate circuit boards into your innovations by laying down conductive ink onto silverboards. While at first their quirky little name was a curiosity, it quickly settled into being positively defined by their dynamic and versatile hardware, which we’ve followed even further recently as they worked diligently to make improvements to their toolhead, allowing you to pick-and-place components on rigid or flexible substrates.
Now, the company is letting us in on their latest developments as they announce multi-layer capability for the Squink, to be shown off soon at the Printed Electronics Europe Show 2016 from 27-28 April 2016 in Berlin. Dedicated Squink users, as well as those still considering purchasing one of the printers, should be quite thrilled to hear that now, one year later, they can not only print and build a PCB right from their desktop, but they will also be able to do this on a more complex level, resulting in more detailed, multilayered circuits and overall greater ability in prototyping.
The company has informed us that with this capability, casually being called the ‘Multilayer Package,’ the printer will run you $3500 in total, and they see that as extremely affordable in comparison to other technology being offered, with this being the only printer to offer desktop capability.
“Squink can do exactly what Nano Dimensions claims they can do, but at 1/10th the cost and they don’t include important functionalities like pick-and-place,” JF Brandon from BotFactory told 3DPrint.com. “In addition, we complete well with Voltera as they cannot do multiple layers or pick-and-place assembly like ours.”
FlexCircuit seen up close.
The secret to the new package is a curing lamp and a new cartridge filled with insulating ink that’s also compatible with the company’s Advanced Ink. When the lamp is placed on top of the circuit, curing ensues via UV light. Users are able to print the ink on top of conductive traces or on top of an insulating layer, according to the BotFactory team in their latest press release. This specially formulated and insulated ink was also developed to enhance materials that are porous or stretchable and don’t work well with Advanced Ink.
“Application of an additional layer of insulating ink on top of the the upper conductive layer is also an option to protect the exposed traces,” states the BotFactory team.
With concern to software, those using the new Multilayer Package will still be able to look forward to making designs with CAD tools such as:
“Squink will use the exported GERBER files to design the printing strategy and guarantee connection between different layers using stacked VIAS,” states the team. “BotFactory is officially supporting two-layer boards and encourages users to experiment with additional layers.”
They do project support for even more layers quite soon, and point out that being able to multilayer has grown into a requirement because ICs are so complicated these days. Also, users and manufacturers both are more interested in a ‘smaller footprint’ for electronics. With this capability, BotFactory predicts that ‘prototyping pains’ in applications such as wearables, IoT, applications for the medical field, education, avionics and more will be eliminated.
Close-up Multilayer Arduino
The package will be offered as follows:
The new ‘Squink Professional Set’ – To be ordered as a bundle including the Squink, Advanced Ink cartridge, FR4, and the Multilayer Package for $3500.
If you are interested in pre-ordering either, they will be available at BotFactory from April 27-May 15, with shipping commencing on May 23rd.
And as a special note: BotFactory is also about to be honored with the Technical Development Manufacturing award by IDTechEx, presented at the show on April 28th. Congratulations, and well done! What are your thoughts on this new option? Discuss in the 3D Printing Circuit Boards & Multilayer Capabilities forum over at 3DPB.com.
[All images shared with 3DPrint.com by BotFactory]
The UV box with cartridge.