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PCB-Sept2017

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62 The PCB Magazine • September 2017 Samuel LeBlanc, Paul Deffenbaugh, Jacob Denkins, and Kenneth Church nSCRYPT INC. Abstract Printed electronics is a familiar term that is taking on more meaning as the technology ma- tures. Flexible electronics is sometimes referred to as a subset of this and the printing approach is one of the enabling factors for roll-to-roll pro- cesses. Printed electronics is improving in per- formance and has many applications that com- pete directly with printed circuit boards. The advantage of roll-to-roll is the speed of manu- facturing, the large areas possible, and a reduc- tion in costs. As this technology continues to mature, it is also merging with the high-profile 3D printing. 3D printing is becoming more than just a rap- id prototyping tool and more than just print- ing small plastic toys. Companies are embrac- ing 3D printing as a manufacturing approach to fabricate complex parts that cannot be done us- ing traditional manufacturing techniques. The combination of 3D printing and printed elec- tronics has the potential to make novel prod- ucts and, more specifically, to make objects electrically functional. Electrically functional objects have the advantage of competing with printed circuit boards. Printed circuit structures will be a new ap- proach to electronic packaging. It is the desire of many companies to reduce assembly pro- cesses, decrease the size of the electronics, and do this at a reduced cost. This is challenging, but the potential of printing the structure and the electronics as a single monolithic unit has many advantages. This will reduce the human touch in assembly, as the electronics and the object are printed. This will increase the rugged- ness of the product, as it is a monolithic device. This will eliminate wires, solder, and connec- tors, making the device smaller. This has the po- tential to be the future of printed circuit boards and microelectronic packaging. This article will show working demonstrations of printed circuit structures, the obstacles, and the potential fu- ture of 3D printed electronics. ARTICLE

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