Later this week I got the chance to talk to folks at Voltera. Alroy Almeida the Co-founder of Voltera and one of the team members behind making the desktop PCB printer gave me some of his time to talk about the printer, how does it work and fortunately answer some questions.
Back in Febraury 2015, the team launched a Kickstarter campaign to back their project, and seems that a lot of people have been interested in the product, it took them just 35 minutes to reach their goal.
As I asked the Co-founder about the idea behind making the printer, he said :
“we started to work on the design and the engineering of the V-One for 2 years prior to launching the Kickstarter campaign. It started as our 4th year engineering project in university.”
The team were ecstatic that the campaign took off so quickly and there were a little intimidated by the road that lie ahead to deliver all the extra orders. The Co-founder pointed to the difficulties they faced during the making of the printer
“with any hardware project you always run into something unexpected. We iterated many times before reaching our final design. We experimented with printing methods, various substances, and product designs before arriving at the beautiful, functional product we have now”
Talking about the Voltera V-one printer, The Voltera V-One can create a prototype board right from your work bench. Gerber files go in; FR4 boards come out. The magic happens in the middle… the printer lays down a conductive ink to create the traces and an insulating ink as a mask between layers.
How does it work?
The process is pretty easy, to print a circuit you need to export a Gerber file from your circuit design software (EAGLE, KiCAD), then import it into the Voltera software. To start the print process, the printer measures the z-axis height of the printing surface, then lays the conductive ink traces. Depending on the complexity of the board you are printing, the print process can take from 15 to 45 minutes.
For now, the printer support printing only on FR4 substrate, and also it doesn’t have a driller or a pick and place system, so you have to do the etching and place the component manually. As for the solder paste which is a Sn42/Bi58 tin bismuth and ink which is mainly made from silver nanoparticle, you can purchase it from the online store of Voltera and change it by yourself because the ink cartridges snap on and off magnetically.
“Right now our focus is on delivering units to our Kickstarter backers, then to people who have pre-ordered the printer on our website. Feedback from our initial users will determine what comes next! We always want to hear from people who are interested in using the V-One, so if anyone is interested in talking further reach out to us at email@example.com”
For more details about the printer and the availability you can check the website: http://voltera.io