Flexible Thinking: Additive Manufacturing of PCBs


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“It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.” –Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra and several other more scientifically minded individuals (including no less than pioneering physicist Nils Bohr) have been proven right time and again with their simple but astute observations about predicting the future. The future is indeed very difficult to predict, but certain things can be intuited with a modicum of logic and a bit of wild-eyed speculation. Some fellow soldiers and I, serving with the 101st Airborne, “invented” what is now called virtual reality (VR) and/or augmented reality (AR) in Vietnam 50 years ago during some of our less frenetic off-hours. It was based on our steel pot helmets, and it had a curved display that gave a 180° field of view and speakers placed around it that provided 3D sound (we did not, however, envision stereoscopic vision to provide 3D imaging, as I recall).

Of course, we had no way to implement our outrageous ideas because the technologies required to support our collective vision were not available until now. I am willing to assert without proof that there were likely others who may have had a similar and contemporary inspiration. Most certainly, there have been numerous others who have had similar ideas since, as evidenced by the Oculus VR headset, which is now available.

We are seeing increasing interest in technologies that will allow one to make electronic substrates in near real-time using additive processing techniques and 3D printers. It is a true game-changer in product development. The surge in interest in additive manufacturing technologies shown in recent times—as indicated by the significant increase in published articles and press releases—suggests that the electronic interconnection manufacturing industry could be on the verge of a manufacturing renaissance.

To read this entire column, which appeared in the November 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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