Significant steps towards enabling 3D printing for electronics

Hyb-Man aims to develop reliable and scalable 3D-printed electronics that are first-time right, save costs and reduce waste

What will it take for today’s leading electronics manufacturers to transform and extend their reach in an ever-changing, highly competitive market? Experts say future electronics will be more personalised, customised and eco-friendly. Additive Manufacturing – also known as 3D printing – has already proven to enhance regular manufacturing processes. And now, we’ve taken significant steps towards enabling 3D printing for electronics.

Hyb-Man is a European consortium that has developed and implemented methods to apply 3D printing to electronic products. Our consortium – made up of partners from every link in the value chain – aims for complete, first-time-right processes that reduce waste and enable personalisation. The result? A significant step towards the design and manufacturing of customised electronics.

Current state of play

Today, electronics manufacturers rely on standardised, series-manufactured housing assemblies and printed circuit boards (PCBs).  These manufacturing methods are not adaptable to ever-shortening product lifecycles, and are too expensive for customised, small-series products.  Introducing Additive Manufacturing for electronics can bring new flexibility and enable production at competitive costs.

The partners at Hyb-Man are dedicated to providing the necessary solutions. We have shown that it is possible to use 3D printing for entire products, including the required components and circuitry, for use in a variety of product applications.

Our consortium has designed various processes for printing electric and structural materials, and now has applications in demonstration. Our modular processes can be adapted for the specific needs and requirements of a wide range of electronic products.

The complete picture

In Hyb-Man, we utilised the expertise of a wider range of partners, like TNO at Holst Centre, Neotech, Bosch and Signify. The group strategically joined together to address the challenges of electronics 3D printing along its entire value chain. Our aim is to accelerate innovation and investment together, with the support of the European community.

Together, we drive the advancement of every step in the value chain, from design to final quality and testing. Our team of engineers focused on design, simulation, toolings, process development, software, automation and more. We are committed to supporting electronics manufacturers from the conception of a product to its realisation, and will provide knowledge and expertise that aims for a first-time-right electronics Additive Manufacturing process.

Potential and promise

In just three years, the consortium delivered impressive results. It has implemented two different manufacturing processes that are capable of producing functional electronic products that were completely 3D printed. Advances were made in design rules, simulation software, in-line testing and quality control that were necessary to deliver two fully functional products in the fields of automotive components and smart lighting.

The consortium partners are now ready to engage with industrial partners to extend our research and development even further. Our goal is to support the market introduction of products that fulfil customer needs, in a way that also supports manufacturers’ cost and sustainability goals. We will work together on new materials and processes, and further optimisation of the systems, to reach industrial reliability and reduced cost of ownership.

Forward for the future

In order to welcome our new partners, Hyb-Man aims to evolve into a new consortium, which will be equipped with further funding and an extended team of both technical and industrial experts. With this team, we will be able to move forward to the next stage of design, testing and improvement.

The evolved project will be another significant, deliberate step towards the future of electronics 3D printing, with new design methodologies, materials and industrial end-users.

Interested in learning more about electronics 3D printing and the newest consortium? Contact us today. We will be happy to show you our demonstrators and our systems, or introduce you to our experts and partner network.

Lotte Willems
Business Developer Hybrid Printed Electronics
Holst Centre – TNO | +31 6 2921 3407

Rob van Asselt
Project Coordinator, Hyb-Man
Signify | +31 6 12960185