Until our first printer shipped in September 2014, two options existed to prototype a circuit board. Firstly to send a design to a PCB manufacturer and pay upwards of a hundred $100 for a few 2”x 2” boards and wait weeks for them to be delivered, or secondly, to painstakingly etch the board yourself, which is a process that exposes you to harmful chemicals and that even an experienced electronics technician may need multiple attempts to get right.
Now, thanks to research and development by the team at Cartesian Co, our Flagship product, Argentum, provides users with the capability to print circuit boards in minutes. Using the Argentum we’ve been able to design and test three iterations of a board, refining it for mass production in the course of a single 8 hour work day using less than $10 of materials. A process that would have previously taken over a month and cost far more.
But there’s more to Argentum than just saving time and money. Because our printer operates using inkjet technology rather than the corrosive processes of traditional circuit board production it enables printing onto a range of unique substrates including FR4 and G10 fibreglass, 3D printed plastics as well as flexible plastics such as Kapton, which is probably connecting the screen through the hinge in your laptop and fabrics like the microfiber cloths we use to clean our screens. This versatility allows for the creation of flexible, biodegradable and wearable circuits. Further yet the ability to print on paper allows users for you to print a simple circuit for less than a dime that can be pasted directly into a notebook, something an educational institution could’ve only dreamt of a year ago.