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The Nano Dimension Dragonfly 3D printer arrived in much fanfare a little over a year ago. The company has been selling them to customers around the world, many of whom are using them to print antennas, sensors, and PCBs. At AltiumLive in Munich, I asked Product Manager Robert Even to discuss what they’ve learned in the year since the Dragonfly debuted, and some potential uses for 3D printing technology.
Andy Shaughnessy: Can you start by telling us a little bit about Nano Dimension and the Dragonfly printer?
Robert Even: Nano Dimension launched the Dragonfly 3D printer just over a year ago at the Productronica show in Munich 2017, and we’ve sold 30 systems in 2018. We’re thrilled as we’re getting more and more feedback from customers using the printer for so many new applications. Just a few months ago, we showed cases where customers are using our printer to save a lot of time on rework, for printing functional antennas and RF amplifiers.
Shaughnessy: Eventually, you will be able to do multilayer circuit boards.
Even: We’ve put in a lot of work into multilayer circuit printing and our systems are fully capable of printing high layer count boards. We’ve printed in excess of 20 layers and we haven’t hit the limit yet and we can produce them in a day, unlike traditional technologies. In order to additively manufacture a multilayer PCB, we clearly need to be able to produce the full range of interconnects such as blind and buried vias.
Shaughnessy: It’s great for prototyping.
Even: Yes. It’s an excellent solution for rapid prototyping across a lot of fields. What we’ve demonstrated this last year is in fields like sensors and antennas, you can use them in lieu of traditional functional prototypes. We’re working towards the area of additive manufacturing where we will be able to produce end products with our technology.
Shaughnessy: Where are you based?
Even: We’re based in Israel. I’m the global product marketing manager and we also have America-and Hong Kong based teams, serving the needs of their local customers. I’m doing a lot of the marketing and sales support work in Europe. We recently sold to a company that used to belong to Airbus Defense—Hensoldt Sensors. We have been expanding our market presence together with our global network of distributors. We have distributor covering all of the major European markets. We expect to see more and more people will be looking to integrate 3D printed electronics to accelerate their design at a very early stage.
Shaughnessy: How do the markets differ between North America and Europe?
Even: Our initial focus was on the US market. and as a result our first sales were largely in North America, specifically in the U.S. We set up a sales network, and there were a lot of industrial groups, innovation centers and defense groups that were interested in this technology to develop PCBs for the future because, of course, we also open up the whole world of printing non-planar circuits. Today, you can make a multilayer PCB but if we want to go to a product where you can combine a novel geometry and electrical functionality, we’re the platform to do that. We’ve also shown some very early proofs of concept with embedded components.
That’s why our logo now is “electrifying additive manufacturing.” We’re adding a whole electrical element to additive manufacturing.
Shaughnessy: Additive manufacturing will get you into HDI.
Even: We could do HDI. We can do lines and spaces down to 100 or 125 microns which is four or five mils. We can also do vias down to 200 microns or eight mils so that we can cover a lot of board types.
Shaughnessy: We’re seeing some companies develop software with an eye toward being able to use 3D printing.
Even: Right. We’re aligned with SolidWorks, and we have an add-in in the Solidworks software. You can fine-tune materials and send them to the Dragonfly Printer for printing. The electrical and mechanical worlds are merging, and our additive manufacturing platform can enable 3D mechatronic designs. We’re very excited to be here at Altium live and giving a presentation to all of the engineers describing what Nano Dimension’s offering offers them.
Shaughnessy: It’s fascinating technology. How did you get involved with this? What’s your background?
Even: I’m originally from Canada. I studied mechanical engineering and studies for an MBA in Europe. Over the last 20 years, I’ve been involved in a lot of multidisciplinary companies in Israel around this world of PCBs and 3D printing. I was with one of the 3D printing pioneers—Stratasys—which launched 3D printing to the world. People were saying, “What is this?” Now, I’m doing it all over again in adding the electronic element to the 3D printing. So, I’ve been in electronics and 3D printing electronics for the last 15 years or so.
Shaughnessy: I remember Stratasys.
Even: Stratasys is now one of the largest 3D printing companies and some of their technology resulted from the merger with an Israeli 3D company called Objet. Today, they’ve merged into one company, and I was involved in that. People now understand what additive manufacturing is, and now it’s all happening all over again with electronics. Nano Dimension is supplying it right now.
Shaughnessy: Thank you, Robert. I’m sure we’ll talk again soon.
Even: Thank you, Andy. My pleasure.