Most of the parts or products created with a 3D printer are not “thinking” products or parts that have a brain, or a sensor. In a recent visit to GE, the Global Research team took me through a number of new concepts and technologies that they are developing. One of the most interesting is one they call: Direct Write. This development would allow you to create more intelligent 3D printed parts — such as sensors.
Like 3D printing, which has been around since the mid-1980s, Direct Write is not new. The technology is about 15 years old and is the outcome of a DARPA program called MICE (here’s a mouthful: Mesoscopic Integrated Conformal Electronics). DARPA is so often involved in technology innovations that it sometimes astounds me. I visited their press page to get an idea of their scope; it is a lengthy page, to say the least.
GE has a good video that explains how it works and I’ve inserted it above. But if you look at this method as an automated pen, a very fine ball point pen perhaps, that can deposit or place material onto a surface, layer by layer, you get the idea that it would be ideal for tiny, fine-featured items like a sensor. As one of the GE folks told me – do you ever wonder why cell phones no longer have antennas (that you can see)? Because you can “direct write” or put that antenna into the cell phone itself. … (Read more)