Silicon Valley has long been associated with headquartering some of the biggest and most successful tech companies and it is from the valley that news has come of new research into the development of intelligent micro materials with a view to ‘printing’ them — utilising advanced Xerox laser printing technology – and thus developing a desktop electronic manufacturing system. The research is being conducted by a team at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) but it is still far from commercialization.
It is all about downsizing – think of the huge electonics boards that were a prerequisite for computing power only a few decades ago, and now the increased amount of power embedded into one of today’s much smaller computer “chips”. Well, now we are talking silicon “chiplets” — each one about the size of a grain of sand and containing intelligent data that can be applied for microprocessors, computer memory and MEMS — and using these as the material to fully construct all manner of electronics equipment by way of a new type of specifically developed 3D printing system.
The potential for applications of this technology are immense and includes customized computers and smart products that do not require any assembly, thereby eliminating components and the supply chain. The Xerox research team is excited about the future possibilities — Eugene Chow who leads the PARC team thinks ““It’s a crazy new revolutionary tool.” While Greg Whiting, a senior research scientist on the PARC team believes, “This is a very different way to think about electronics.” However, the team does concede that this is early research and they are still a long way off perfecting the chiplets and controlling them effectively and efficiently.
But this research is a clear indicator that in the future it is entirely possible that 3D printing technology will be infinitely more precise and intelligent than in its current state with, dare I say it, an endless array of applications.
Source: NY Times