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Voltera Launches World’s First Printer for Soft & Stretchable Electronics With 3D Substrate Mapping

Voltera, a manufacturer of additive and printed electronics technology, has announced the launch of NOVA, a groundbreaking manufacturing platform for printing flexible hybrid electronics. NOVA uses direct-write technology to print circuits on soft, stretchable, and conformable surfaces.

NOVA’s precision extrusion technology makes it easier and faster to conduct research and develop the products of the future by enabling rapid benchtop iteration, leading to more reliable results, faster development times, and lower costs.

While subtractive methodologies are great for traditional electronics, the future of electronics is flexible — and that means the future of electronics is additive. As a direct-write, digital printer, NOVA enables innovation without requiring the tooling and high costs associated with screen printing. This allows for rapid design iteration while offering higher performance than other additive prototyping options, such as inkjet. It is also better for the environment because there is significantly less waste and material contamination, and NOVA can print circuits on eco-friendly materials, such as biodegradable substrates.

Smart Probe and Dispenser

By mapping the surface of the substrate, the Smart Probe ensures that when NOVA starts to print it knows the surface of the substrate like the back of its hand. NOVA’s vacuum table provides the flexibility to experiment with soft, stretchable, and conformable materials. The vacuum table’s porous titanium surface allows uniform airflow to secure almost any substrate. The Smart Dispenser delivers the pressure feedback and semi-automated ink calibration allowing traces down to 100μm and print with basically any material.

“This first-of-its-kind benchtop machine unlocks rapid flexible hybrid electronics prototyping and the ability to experiment with custom inks and a wide variety of substrates,” said Alroy Almeida, CEO and co-founder of Voltera. “NOVA is already being used to innovate how humankind explores deep space, to develop printed, on-skin sensors for medical imaging, and to prototype clothing that can measure your heart rate yet can go through the gentle cycle in your washing machine.”

“With NOVA, we can make devices and align them to sub 10-micron precision, which is essential to everything that we do,” said Alex Kashkin, Graduate Researcher, Velasquez Group at MIT, who is using NOVA to develop printed electron sources for neutralizing ionic thruster plumes in low-earth orbit. “If we have a 20-micron deviation, our devices explode. We need a lot of precision, we need to have tuned materials, and NOVA enables both.”

Technological advancement involves pushing the boundaries of what is known. NOVA crosses the bridge between what researchers can do and what they wish they could do.

“I think where this sort of technology, NOVA, will shine is in applications that were not possible before. You shouldn’t fight or try to compete with silicon chips or PCBs. You should try to make something that’s impossible with those technologies,” said Gerd Grau, Director of the Electronics Additive Manufacturing Lab at York University, who is using NOVA to develop on-skin biomedical tattoo electrodes.

NOVA features include:

Materials freedom: Simply fill NOVA’s Smart Dispenser cartridge with the desired material and use its semi-automated calibration procedure to start printing in minutes.

Quick-swap work areas: Mount flexible substrates using the Vacuum Table module, or mount rigid substrates using custom fixturing.

Precision dispensing: Print high-resolution features with realtime, closed-loop pressure feedback with no tooling or screens required.

Integrated vision system: Align, print, and inspect quickly using an intelligent camera-based alignment and AR print overlay features.

Modular platform: Built to include two quick-swap module ports, drop-in fixturing, and optional ethernet/USB/WiFi connectivity. Two modules are currently available with additional modules on the product roadmap.

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