New 3D printer able to manufacture custom electronics

Voxel8,
a company that grew out of Harvard University research, will display its new
3D printer at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las
Vegas this week.

The
desktop-friendly printer, described by Gizmodo as similar in appearance to a
MakerBot Replicator, is able to lay out parts in PLA plastic and conductive silver ink.

“Voxel8 is leveraging over a decade of research, which has led to 17
patents (10 issued) on functional materials, printheads, and other
processes for 3D printing, from my lab,” said Dr.
Jennifer A. Lewis, the company’s founder and the Wyss Professor of Biologically
Inspired Engineering at Harvard, in a statement.

Voxel8’s
goal, according to Wired, is to advance 3D printing by introducing new
materials and taking the focus away from polymers.

“It’s
like you can print anything you want, as long as it’s made of plastic,” said Lewis.

“But
if you want to take 3-D printing to the next level, we have to have the
material sets to do that.”

The
technology is not currently able to print anything as complicated as a
customised hearing aid, but Voxel8 said this would be the case for later
models. It can currently manufacture items including quadcopter drones
(pictured), though these need to have motors and blades added after printing.

Lewis’s
firm, which is backed by Braemar Energy Ventures, also announced a partnership
with US software company Autodesk. Voxel8 is collaborating with Autodesk on Project
Wire, a design tool for the printers powered by Autodesk’s Spark platform.

The Voxel8 Developer’s kit will ship late 2015, is available through the company’s
website, and goes for $US 8,999.

Image: Voxel8