Israel-based electronics 3D printing company Nano Dimension just released its DragonFly LDM system for continuous circuit printing. LDM stands for Lights-out Digital Manufacturing, so named because it can print 24/7 without human intervention. German defense firm HENSOLDT tested the new system to fabricate various sensors and found it to be 40% more efficient than reference circuits.
Andreas Salomon, the project leader for 3D printed electronics at HENSOLDT, stated: “The DragonFly LDM is a necessary evolutionary setup up from the DragonFly Pro, enabling low-volume manufacturing of electronic circuits fast and easy to do in-house, with minimal operator time. It will be a great addition for HENSOLDT, enabling us to develop innovative applications faster and with far better machine availability and lower maintenance than ever before.”
The most notable difference between the DragonFly Pro and the DragonFly LDM is the improved automation of the LDM, which includes an automatic self-cleaning printhead system that activates every few hours. As such, the LDM requires human maintenance only once a week, greatly reducing production downtime.
“The DragonFly LDM is designed to help our customers prepare for Industry 4.0. and stay competitive in a world that demands electronic devices with increasingly sophisticated features. Like its predecessor, the DragonFly Pro, it’s the first of its kind on the market, carefully designed for both ease-of-use and even more agile, faster and affordable 3D printing of functional circuitry,” said Amit Dror, CEO and co-founder of Nano Dimension. “We’re confident that the LDM system will provide best in class additive manufacturing of printed electronics on the market, making it possible for companies to be more innovative, improve productivity and reliability, lower costs and reduce time-to-market.”
Like the Pro, the LDM has two printheads so it can deposit highly-conductive silver nanoparticle ink and dielectric polymer ink at the same time, meaning through-holes can be printed rather than requiring a drilling step. With a mechanical accuracy of one micron, no detail is too small for the LDM. It can make PCBs (printed circuit boards) as large as 16 cm X 16 cm x 0.3 cm with a minimum trace layer thickness of 17 microns. A wide range of circuitry can be fabricated on the LDM, such as capacitors, antennas, electromagnets, Molded Interconnect Devices (MIDs), transformers, RFID tags, sensors, and multi-layer PCBs.
3D printing electronics will further enable the expansion of the IoT (Internet of Things) because the technology makes it easier to customize circuits to the shapes of consumer goods.