Researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed a method for rapidly 3D-printing fully functional electronic circuits such as antennas, medical devices, and solar-energy-collecting structures.
Unlike conventional 3D printers, these circuits can contain both both electrically conductive metallic inks (like the silver wires in the photo above) and insulating polymeric inks (like the yellow and orange support structure). A UV light is used rapidly solidify the inks).
The “multifunctional additive manufacturing” (MFAM) method combines 3D printing, which is based on layer-by-layer deposition of materials to create 3D devices, with 2D-printed electronics. It prints both conductors and insulators in a single step, expanding the range of functions in electronics (but not integrated circuits and other complex devices).
The researchers discovered that silver nanoparticles in conductive inks are capable of absorbing UV light efficiently.