Building hardware sucks! Whenever we wanted to create a circuit board for an electronics project, we were forced to mess around with dangerous chemicals or send it to a fab house and wait for weeks for the board to arrive.
The Voltera V-One can create a prototype board right from your work bench. Gerber files go in; FR4 boards come out. The magic happens in the middle... the printer lays down a conductive ink to create the traces and an insulating ink as a mask between layers.
These boards aren't meant to replace mass manufactured PCBs - this is a prototyping tool that helps you get there faster. How many times have you tossed out a board because you used the wrong footprint or because you forgot a pull-up resistor? If you're anything like us... more times than you'd like to admit. Now you can quickly test an idea without wasting money or two weeks of your time!
But what if you have ten or twenty traditionally fabbed boards that need to be populated? Did we mention that the printer is also a solder paste dispenser and can reflow as well? Handy!
The printer only has one button and the ink cartridges snap on and off magnetically. Our software will guide you through every step and will handle all the file conversions. Pretty simple!
When we say simple... we mean for you. Hitting the spec we set out for ourselves was incredibly difficult but we're hoping our hard work means your life becomes easier!
Creating a two layer board is a breeze… While designing, keep the vias and layers like you normally would. After the first layer is printed and cured, swap in the insulating ink cartridge.
The software automatically detects trace intersections and lays down a mask where two traces overlap.
If you’re still etching or milling your own boards, gone are the days of aligning double sided boards and fly-wiring through tiny holes just to get your circuit to work!
Once your board is ready for components to be added, set your iron to 240 C and solder away! (Reflow onto Voltera printed boards is currently under development)
Are dev boards the first step in your development cycle? Do you find yourself with a mess of satellite boards wired up to the micro? Each printer comes with template boards that are cut to shape and pre-drilled to get you up and running ASAP.
We will be starting with Arduino Uno and Mega shield boards but will be adding more as we go. Backers get a say in what comes next! Spark Core? Raspberry Pi? Beagle Bone?
Past the protoyping stage and need to do a small batch run? We can help there too! Get the boards fabbed and swap the print head to transform the printer into a solder paste dispenser.
Once the paste is down, add the components and click reflow! Voila!
We averaged the turnaround times from a few different fab shops. Here's what we found:
Comparing costs of a printed board to a fabbed board is a bit more difficult because:
- domestic fab shops tend to be more expensive
- printed silver ink isn't the same as plated copper. Similar to how you can't compare a 3D printed part to a molded part; however, both have value for their application
- with the printer, you won't have to expedite your order
- with the printer, you won't need to pay shipping costs
- with the printer, you won't need to pay or wait for stencils
James came up with this brilliant idea back in Aug 2012 but we didn't start working full-time until May 2013. Over the following months we worked heavily on the chemistry and fluid deposition systems around inkjet technology.
In early 2014 we finally decided that inkjet printing would not meet our spec for conductivity, resolution, and solderability. Using everything we learned in the prior months, we took the technology in a new direction with more viscous inks.
We learned so much more from the triplets (left) and got to test many iterations of our ink cartridge system. The renders (middle and right) show the progression of the aesthetics into something we are now incredibly proud of!
The time was right to pack up and move to Shenzhen, China to build the final prototype and start building out our supply chain. The entire country moves at a start-up's speed so we were able to get so much done while there!
Once the details started to fall into place, we got a chance to live our dream of going to the Consumer Electronics Show! We got to meet hundreds of amazing hardware designers and even had the chance to pitch to 50 Cent!
We’d like to send a big big big thank you to our AMAZING support system:
- Velocity staff, alumni, and companies
- HAX staff, alumni, and companies
- UW Engineering, UW SDC, Communitech, and the Kitchener-Waterloo community
- Matt Ewertowski the greatest intern ever
- Antony Bui for the video and photography
- Cortex Design
- MaryAnn, Steve, Catherine, and Sarah
- Dominic, Don, John
- Ilia Baranov for his help with the ruler
- Our friends, families, and everyone that helped review the KS page
Press contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Risks and challenges
We’ve got a great product, a phenomenal team, and a wicked plan to make it happen, but like many Kickstarter projects we also have a few challenges to overcome before the printer gets into your hands...
Supply Chain and Manufacturing
Choosing the right vendors and manufacturers is particularly difficult for many Kickstarter projects due to lack of experience. Since this is so critical to delivering on our promise, we have moved to Shenzhen, China (the hardware capital of the world) which means we have selected factories that we have visited ourselves to inspect the machinery, working conditions, and quality of previous products they’ve built. We also intend to spend a large amount of time at the factories while completing our first production run.
We have meticulously sourced quality parts from suppliers we trust and already have working relationships with. We’re working very closely with awesome mentors with tons of experience designing products and bringing them to market. This means the printer has already been designed for manufacturing and assembly.
Assembly and Quality Control
The reason we are shipping units in a small initial batch and a second larger one is so that we can ensure the highest quality printers for our backers. Assembling and shipping the first batch by hand in China means we can ensure all the parts meet our spec and so we can make changes to manufacturing processes before components get shipped to North America. We are confident that this is the best way to get the products to you as soon as possible.
Since QA is such a major focus for us, we’ll be testing components and subassemblies multiple times during the assembly process. Although this adds a little bit of time, it also ensures a robust product that can withstand you putting it through its paces for many years.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)