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Florida-based microdispensing specialist nScrypt has announced its latest additive manufacturing innovation: the ability to 3D print multi-axis electronics onto curved and irregular surfaces.
Using its SmartPump microdispensing tool head, the company demonstrated the new capability by 3D printing its own n-shaped logo onto a computer mouse.
The achievement means nScrypt systems will now be able to conformally 3D print electronic parts like circuit connections, antennas, strain gauges, and sensors directly onto substrates of any shape. The company expects to unlock new applications in implantable medical devices, UAVs, sensing systems, helmets, wearables, and more.
Dr. Ken Church, CEO of nScrypt, explains, “These new features allow our customers to throw an object, like a mouse or a Coke bottle, into our machine and print conformally to the surface using multiple axes in minutes, not days, with minimal labor. The printed electronics applications are game-changing and virtually unlimited.”
nScrypt’s Factory in a Tool portfolio
nScrypt has built a name for itself in the microdispensing space with its extensive range of Factory in a Tool (FiT) 3D printers, which includes the 3Dn Series, the 3Dn-DDM Series, and the nRugged system. Leveraging multi-head tool-changing technology, FiT systems are designed to serve as an all-in-one manufacturing engine, providing users with 3D printing, milling, polishing, pick-and-place, and post-processing functionality.
Each of the machines is compatible with the company’s entire tool head suite, including the SmartPump, which makes them well suited to production in sectors such as electronics, defense, aerospace, energy, bioprinting, and more.
Earlier this year, in March, nScrypt achieved 6-axis 3D printing with its 3Dn-Axis FiT 3D printer, providing users with a new level of geometric control when designing parts. This was done by integrating three additional axes of motion into the machine: the RS axis to spin the tool head, the RT axis to tilt the tool head, and the RR axis to spin the print bed.
More recently, the firm also released its new 3D printing machine control software, nStudio. Intended as the next generation to nScrypt’s older software offering, nStudio comes complete with several advanced features such as an option to pause after scanning, an improved ROI scan pathing speed, and a new measure cylinder tool.
Conformal 3D printing with the SmartPump
To showcase the new conformal 3D printing capabilities, the nScrypt team first path scanned the surface of the mouse to create a mesh. Then, the firm’s nStudio software was used to project a DXF file onto the mesh and compute the surface normals. The software layered the path scanning over the calculated surface normals and ensured that the clearance would remain constant over the entirety of the projected tool path.
Just before the nScrypt logo was printed onto the mouse, the team applied filters to the scan and paths to ensure there would be no visible layer lines on the printed logo, resulting in a perfect, microdispensed ‘n’ on the mouse.
The conformal 3D printing feature has been incorporated into three of nScrypt’s systems: the 3Dx-700 (3Dn-Axis), the 5-axis trunnion tabletop, and the 3Dn 4-axis option.
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Featured image shows the 3Dn-1000 3D printer. Photo via nScrypt.