Chips off the old block at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center)

Borrowing from photocopier technology, researchers find a way to make an electronics printer. 3D printing has come a long way since Johannes Gutenberg perfected the commercial use of the printing press around 1439. Since then, movable type has given way to other processes, such as lithography and screen printing. 

In the digital era, laser and inkjet printers arrived. Then 3D printers emerged to make solid objects by building up layers of material. What would be nice is a machine that could also print the electronics that go into devices. Now one group of researchers has succeeded in demonstrating how just such a machine might work.

Although it is already possible to print layers of material to form some basic electronics, such as smart labels, these tend to be large and relatively unsophisticated compared with microchips made in a multi-billion-dollar fabrication plant. Some of Intel’s latest chips, for instance, contain transistors as tiny as 14 nanometres (or billionths of a metre). Making things this small allows hundreds of thousands of components to be squeezed onto a single chip.

Dr. Janos Veres, who manages PARC’s printed-electronics team, will speak at the 2nd edition of the 3D Printing Electronics Conference, 20 January 2014, High Tech Campus Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

Source: economist.com

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Borrowing from photocopier technology, researchers find a way to make an electronics printer