As 3D printing goes mainstream, it is opening the door for innovative possibilities in consumer electronics design, production, and use.
FREMONT, CA: 3D printing has come a long way in the last few years. This quickly evolving technology is disrupting manufacturing workflows of almost all industries. In addition to 3D printing’s highly publicized application areas, there are several sectors that have the potential to be entirely transformed by 3D printing. Chief among them is the consumer electronics industry. Even though 3D printing electronics is an admittedly niche segment, it is arguably one of the promising avenues for it. The opportunities 3D printing creates are here.
• Innovative Designs and Mass Customization
3D printing eliminates the need for flat circuit boards and creates opportunities for innovative designs optimized for functions. 3D printed designs can outperform conventional designs because their shapes and dimensions can be adjusted to fit a particular product and optimize operations.
3D printing allows greater flexibility for unit-level customization for not only mechanical parts but also electronic and electromechanical parts. Thus, adapting to consumer preferences by achieving product functionality is significant.
• In-house Prototyping
One of the most significant advantages of electronics 3D printing is that manufacturers can prototype electronic devices rapidly in-house, reducing the need for external production service. As a direct consequence of this, consumer electronics manufacturers can design and prototype new products with much faster turnaround times and with slightly reduced costs. Overall, having electronics 3D printing in-house enables businesses to speed up research and development significantly.
• Simplified Assembly and Lower Material Wastage
The conventional approach to electronics manufacturing involved several steps, including film deposition, lithography, etching, and packaging. 3D printing incorporates all these activities into a single build process. Also, the empirical evidence suggests that material wastage is lower in using the 3D printing process. Besides, the electronic part weight can be reduced by eliminating separate circuit boards, cables, and wiring through 3D printing.
The consumer electronics industry is expecting 3D printed electronics to be the next high-growth application for electronics product innovation in the coming years. In the coming years, it is possible to envision a future in which consumer products are entirely 3D printed.