Neurotechnology, an algorithm and software company, recently announced it is working on a new form of ultrasonic 3D printing and particle manipulation. In fact, it’s set to shake up manufacturing completely through hands-free creation and assembly of products within a single machine. While you might dry heaved a little at the thought of someone using this to create ‘yet another fidget spinner’, applications abound. First, have a look at how electronics are assembled:
Using a series of calibrated ultrasonic transducers and a laser connected to an all-seeing camera, the printer can hover and assemble materials (water, solder, plastic, etc) and components (resistors, transistors, capacitors, etc.) of all shapes and sizes. With a simple calibration of the ultrasonic frequencies, objects can be adjusted to moved these items at a submillimeter range, allowing for pinpoint accuracy no matter the size or make of the material.
It Can Manipulate Different Materials
Sure it makes for an interesting parlor trick, but it also addresses a lot of issues present in everyday manufacturing.
Instead of using a number of machines for each step of manufacturing and assembly, this baby can quite feasibly combine all steps in one machine using different algorithms, processes and part manipulation, adjusted to match the product specs. This not only removes the need for numerous machines, but it also creates a versatile printer capable of handling production for a wide variety of output. Which brings us back to its ability to manipulate objects without touching them.
It Can Locate Electronic Components Precisely
Be it your iPhone, laptop, or personal pacemaker, everything you own was at one point touched by a strange machine or a strange person. The ultrasonic not only levitates things like a spry, young Yoda, but does so with such great precision that even the most sensitive components can be exactly positioned without being touched. Unlike other non-contact methods, such as magnetic or electrostatic technologies, ultrasonic frequencies are much more stable and offer a wider range in terms of the objects they can handle.
It Could Assemble All of Your Products
This PCP board may just be a prototype, but it clearly shows that the technology is feasible. With Neurotechology urging other companies to develop and adopt this new innovation, factory defects–heck, factories as they exist today–may soon become a thing of the past. And just think having to consider this of assembly in your design. “Design for Ultrasonic Assembly” could replace “Design for Manufacturing”.