Aerosol Jet Printing (AJP) and Directed Energy Deposition (DED) 3D printer developer Optomec has released its latest electronics 3D printer: the Aerosol Jet HD2.
Optomec’s new system still allows users to print interconnects onto 3D substrates, only now with a higher level of precision and throughput than before. The HD2 is also capable of fabricating circuit boards with better high-frequency performance, lending them potential signal relaying or automotive radar applications.
“The HD2 really changes the way designers think about IC packaging,” said Bryan Germann, Aerosol Jet Product Manager. “Not only can it reduce the size of the final electronics package, but it also out-performs wire bonding when it comes to high-frequency signals. Wire bonds simply produce a lot of inductance above 40 GHz.”
Optomec’s AJP 3D printing portfolio
With the launch of the HD2, the firm now makes four different AJP machines, including the Flex, 5X, and the original HD. Aerosol Jet Printing is one of Optomec’s two main printing technologies, and it’s largely used to create interconnects between 3D substrates inside devices such as LED chips or stacked die.
During the AJP process, Optomec’s systems spray nanoparticle-based inks onto either a 2D or 3D surface, which are then sintered together. The technique removes the need for traditional wire bonding, and its compatibility with conductive gold, silver, have lent it both aerospace and consumer electronics applications.
Samsung Electronics, for instance, has installed Optomec’s AJP 5X system, as a means of accelerating its electronics production process. Elsewhere, AJP has been used to create everything from high-resolution circuits and turbine blades with integrated sensors, to wireless Bluetooth transceivers.
Last year, researchers from the global defense firm Northrop Grumman even built on Optomec’s technology to develop a new method of 3D printing uprgraded semiconductors. Now, with the launch of its new machine, Optomec has refined the AJP process itself, as a means of better addressing the potentially lucrative semiconductor market.
The new Aerosol Jet HD2 machine
Optomec’s new system is designed to allow users to create complex electronics, that drive better performance from 5G-capable devices. As a result, the HD2 has been built with a focus on precision, and it’s capable of printing features just 10 microns wide, significantly better than the 20 microns possible with the original.
Like its AJP predecessors, the HD2 can be used to print onto either 2D or 3D substrates, and its support for multiple ink input devices, means that materials can be switched during printing. Optomec’s new machine also remains compatible with conductive metals as well as some dielectric polymers, enabling the production of complex electronics such as transmission lines, sensors or antennas.
Dimensionally, weighing in at 567kg and standing 2185mm tall, the HD2 is larger and lighter than its predecessor, while its 300 x 300 x 100mm print area is wider too. Connectivity-wise, the new machine also features USB 3.0 and RGB LED ports, allowing users to customize it with whichever lighting accessories take their fancy.
Other optional extras for the HD2 include a rotate table for 4-axis processing, and an in-line conveying option that enables automated loading, and higher-volume manufacturing. Finally, new adopters also receive the firm’s proprietary software, which guides users through their initial set-up, and ensures QA compliance.
Technical specifications and pricing
Below are the technical specifications for the Aerosol Jet HD2 3D printer. The machine will be available to order soon via Optomec’s network of distributors, with pricing available on request.
|Dimensions||46 x 60 x 86 in. (1168 x 1525 x 2185 mm)|
|Work Area||300 x 300 mm (XY)|
|Weight||1250 lbs (567 kg)|
|Throughput||3 point-to-point wires per second|
|Accuracy/Repeatability||+/- 5 um over 25 mm|
|Line Thickness||<1 to 10+ um|
|Materials||Conductors: Ag, Cu, Au|
|Software||CAD/CAM offline programming|
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Featured image shows Optomec’s new HD2 electronics 3D printer. Photo via Optomec.