This is something I totally forgot to blog about. TNO, a Dutch research institute, is doing a lot of interesting stuff in the field of rapid manufacturing. The work on improving 3D printers as well as doing lots of research and experimentation on processes and materials. Their Rapid Manufacturing department, TNO RM Research is located right here in Eindhoven. One of the things they showed me a while back but I totally forgot to share was this: 3D printed circuit boards. This is very far from being a scalable industrial process that we can use but it does point to an interesting future.
The process prints a housing as well as the circuit board itself in one go. The pictures below show you a very simple circuit board that when hooked up to a battery allows the lights to go on. This has huge implications for design and manufacturing and would take 3D printing from a “nice for prototypes” technology to a production process that could revolutionize how products are made. If the housing is the electronics form factors and the engineering in a lot of products we use could alter dramatically.