Voxel8 3D printer can print a complete quadcopter, including the electronics

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3D printing at the consumer end of the scale is still a very new form of tech. The price of the printers has come down significantly, but for the most part they will just print relatively complex 3D shapes using plastic. We want them to be more advanced and therefore more useful, and Voxel8 looks to be the first to deliver on that front.

Voxel8 has developed an FDM printer which is capable of printing both with thermoplastic and conductive paste. This is backed up by software developed in collaboration with Autodesk that allows for circuit pathways and electronic component bays to be easily incorporated into the design. The end result is this printer can create both the object and the circuitry required to power/control it.

As an example, Voxel8 attended CES this year and 3D printed a quadcopter from the ground up. It’s a multi-stage process that first sees part of the plastic body printed complete with spaces for the electronics and circuit pathways. That body section is removed, the electronic components dropped in, and then the whole thing returned to the printer for the conductive paste extruder to go to work adding the circuits. Finally the rest of the body is added before the rotors are inserted.

The Voxel8 3D Electronics Printer is certainly not cheap, with a first-run unit costing $8,999. That gets you a complete printer, Autodesk Wire 3D Electronics Software, 4 PLA filament spools, 10 conductive ink cartridges, and the promise of access to new materials as they become available. That’s because the printer isn’t available yet, you can pre-order one for shipping later this year.

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$9,000 puts this printer out of reach of most consumers, but the point is this is a first-generation multi-purpose 3D printer capable of electronics. The price will come down quickly as competition enters the market, and 5 years from now we will be talking about hundreds of dollars for a similar printer. After that you’ll be buying a cheap quadcopter kit and making it yourself rather than opting for a pre-made one.

Now read: 3D LED printer makes a contact lens display possible

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