Manufacturing electronics: the next step for laser printers?

As the incredible development of printer technology continues, another approach is currently being researched and tested in the field of electronic manufacturing.

Using “ink” made from small fragments of silicone chips that are no larger than a grain of sand, Xerox’s ‘Palo Alto Research Center’ [PARC] are hoping to one day use laser printers to create create desktop manufacturing plants that use chiplets to “print” the circuitry for a wide array of electronic devices.

This idea could potentially take 3D printing onto the next level before its initial capabilities – some of which can still be considered as “potential” themselves – have even been realised.  For example, not only could the structure of a product be printed, but also the electronic functionality that goes with it.

Eugene Chow, the PARC electrical engineer, whose team developed this new technology,  known as “xerographic micro-assembly” told Markoff that the “crazy new revolutionary tool” prints silicon “chiplets” onto a surface.

Researchers have yet to scale this technique onto a larger scale, though the often-mentioned “potential” is most certainly there.