All-in-one circuit printer “Squink” to bring Electronics Prototyping to the Desktop
The next big step beyond 3D printing? Three Brooklyn entrepreneurs are launching “Squink”, the world’s first all-in-one circuit printer, ideal for prototyping electronics and educational settings.
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The desktop unit prints and assembles an electronic circuit for a low cost, within minutes - a sharp departure from today’s method of sending a design file away to a printed circuit board fabricator and assembler, which can take weeks and cost several hundred dollars.
Squink replaces the usual manual soldering operation with a conductive glue, meaning that even young students or makers who have not yet mastered the difficult skill of delicate soldering can easily prototype electronics from a file. It prints on a variety of substrates - even flexible ones. A short youtube-video show the process:
“Squink is a personal circuit factory,” said Carlos Ospina, BotFactory co-founder and CTO. “It lowers the barrier for hardware design and fabrication. Squink can be used by experienced designers to accelerate their development cycle, and empowers communities with limited access to fabrication services. When some say that hardware is “hard”, our technology is here to show it doesn’t need to be.”
Electronic circuit prototyping is complicated, expensive, and requires a long turnaround time. In contrast, software prototyping is fast and easy: with just a computer, one can develop and test ideas and iterate on them to get to the desired result.
“Our goal is to bring the same agile concept of software to electronics through Squink and give everyone the opportunity to build their own electronic devices,” said Michael Knox, BotFactory co-founder and Technical Guru. “This will change the distribution model for how electronics get to the hands of customers. We want it to democratize electronics the way that 3D printers have expanded design.”
The basic need for such a system was discussed by Ospina and Vansnick during a graduate class taken together at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. “Our assignment was to create a prototype of a device capable of reading brain waves,” recalled Vansnick. “Out of eight groups, only one finished before the deadline, and the reason was that the circuit design and prototyping process required numerous iterations and circuit assembly skills. So we dreamed of a solution that would allow us to create prototypes of circuit boards at low cost and minimum time.”
They prototyped their first version of the printer as part of the Innovention contest at NYU Polytechnic. Supported by Knox, an Industry Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the NYU Polytechnic, their prototype became one of the contest winners.
BotFactory’s Kickstarter campaign raised more than $100,000 for a first production run of 50 units. “We took the Kickstarter approach because it is a great way to build a community. Circuit printers will need a community to share designs and information, just like the one that has embraced 3D printing,” said Nicolas Vansnick, BotFactory co-founder and CEO. “Imagine being able to design your own TV remote control or custom lighting controls.”