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3D Printing Technique with Non-Contact Ultrasonic Manipulation Technology

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

The 3D printer we think more frequently in combination with PCBs is the DragonFly 2020 from Nano Dimension which works with different with all kinds of materials in addition to PCBs as they are a great 3D printing player in electronic space.

The Ultrasound Research group at Neurotechnology (http://www.neurotechnology.com) has proclaimed a new 3D printing method using ultrasonic manipulation which are totally hands off and non-contact tech behind it, permitting for the handling of parts and particles down to submillimeter range without causing damage to sensitive components. According to the project lead for Neurotechnology Ultrasound Research Group, Dr. Osvaldas Putkis, “Ultrasonic manipulation can handle a very large range of different materials, including metals, plastics and even liquids. Not only can it manipulate material particles, it can also handle components of various shapes. Other non-contact methods, like the ones based on magnetic or electrostatic forces, can’t offer such versatility”.

Since the work from the Ultrasound Research Group embodies a new technological application, Neurotechnology has filed a patent on their system. Neurotechnology describes ultrasonic manipulation as a “non-contact material handling method which uses ultrasonic waves to trap and move small particles and components.”  It is well known that ultrasonic manipulation of particles exploits the acoustic radiation force to deliver a contactless handling method for particles suspended in a fluid. In an ultrasonic standing wave field, the viscous torque induces the rotation of an object. Alongside the translation of particles due to the acoustic radiation force an additional controlled degree of rotation is obtainable. Consequently, there is a growing interest in spreading the field of application of ultrasonic particle manipulation to the deposition of micro and nanowires and for the assembly of micro objects.

Ultrasonic transducers are arranged in an array used to position electronic components in the creation of a PCB, utilizing a camera to detect accurate positioning. Continuing on with the hands-off theme, a laser solders the PCB components after their non-contact manipulation into placement. 3D printing and PCB manufacture are increasingly coming together, as advanced technologies benefit the creation of devices in electronics, including via 3D printed workstations for PCBs.

Even though their method works with all types of materials, we expect to see further applications beyond PCB assembly.

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Neurotechnology Develops 3D Printing Method with Non-Contact Ultrasonic Manipulation Technology

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