Growing Opportunities with 3D Printed Electronics


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Dr. Kurt Christenson, senior scientist at Optomec, discusses the company’s Aerosol Jet technology, which eliminates the need for wire bonding by printing interconnects on 3D surfaces. Christenson also explores the current state of the technology and highlights the market segments and applications with the most to benefit from being able 3D print electronic components, such as resistors, capacitors, antennas, and transistors.

Barry Matties: Kurt, can you tell us a little bit about your company?

Dr. Kurt Christenson: Optomec makes additive manufacturing equipment. We have two divisions. One division makes a product called LENS that makes a melt pool in metal with a laser and then sprays powdered metal in to add material. When it cools and freezes, it follows the crystal structure, so we can repair a single crystal turbine blade or make full 3D metal parts. My part of the company makes a product called Aerosol Jet, which atomizes an ink. We don’t care what’s in the ink as long as we can make roughly three-micron droplets.

Then, we aerodynamically focus it down to a size where we can make from 10-micron lines to three-millimeter strips, depending on the need. My personal focus has been on connecting integrated circuits. We call it three-dimensional IC or 3D IC.

Matties: A while back, I did an interview with your colleague [Pascal Pierra] where we discussed printing on the wings of airplanes and such.

Christenson: Yes. That was the Aerosol Jet, which is my side of things. One of the things we do is print on aircraft wings. For instance, antennas on drone wings is a common interest that we get. A second would be heaters on specialty windows or headlight heaters.

To read the full version of this article which originally appeared in the  April 2019 issue of Flex007 Magazine, click here.

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