nScrypt announced that it has successfully 3D manufactured a rugged, fully functioning precision electronic sensing device on a cylinder.  

nScrypt’s multi-axis Factory in a Tool 3D printed the structure to precise specifications, milled the surface to tight tolerances to accept electronic circuits and electronic components, microdispensed the circuit conformally on the surface of the cylinder, and picked, placed and embedded electronic components. All of this was done digitally in one machine in one build with automatic tool changes and multiple automatic material changes in real time, starting with a CAD file. The device features:

  • High-precision 3D printed cylindrical shape with conformal circuitry
  • Bluetooth microcontroller
  • Embedded printed antenna
  • Fully embedded components (the surface can also be fully encapsulated so that the circuitry is protected and is not visible and exposed to the environment)
  • Subtractively manufactured tight-tolerance component cavities (the picked and placed components fit precisely into cavities milled for them)
  • PC-ABS shell
  • Silver conductive traces
  • On-board battery power
  • The cylinder can be outfitted with a variety of sensors, including acoustic, light, motion, vibration and temperature.

The scientists and engineers at nScrypt and its research arm, Sciperio, are working with a number of partners, including the U.S. Army, to reshape and reimagine how electronics can be packaged, delivered to areas that need to be monitored, and send valuable data back to the user. The applications for such a device include placing or delivering it to locations where environmental or other conditions need to be monitored, such as situations encountered by first responders or warfighters. One nScrypt project is to print a sensor system with a communications link to a smartphone, which will allow the user to communicate remotely with the device from a safe distance. By 3D manufacturing the device in cylindrical form, a substantial amount of functionality can be built into in a small, rugged, high-precision package.  

According to nScrypt’s CEO, Dr. Ken Church, “Manufacturing a traditionally planar circuit on or in a round object is a lot like putting a square peg in a round hole. It's not a good fit, but we did it and I believe we are the first to do so. Cylindrically printed circuits can allow for volumetric savings in areas where traditional PCB’s fall flat. Traditional, flat PCB’s would be forced to occupy valuable real estate inside the cylinder body. But printing electronics and sensor systems in specialty shapes like cylinders or cones and utilizing the curvature of the walls provides unique advantages and innovative form factors.   More importantly, by delivering such devices to the point of need, humans can be removed from dangerous situations or remote locations. We start with a CAD file and our Factory in a Tool does the rest, 3D manufacturing a complete, fully functioning, high-precision, multi-material electronic device with virtually unlimited applications for sensing and providing data at a distance.”