Date of Award

12-2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Mark E. Dean

Committee Members

Benjamin J. Blalock, Syed K. Islam

Abstract

Additive manufacturing is revolutionizing the way we build and produce a plethora of products spanning many industries. 3D printing, a subset of additive manufacturing, has shown strong potential in reduced energy use, sustainability and cost effectiveness. Exploring avenues that this technology can be utilized is key to improve productivity and efficiency in various applications; for example electronic systems and devices manufacturing.Electronic systems and sub-systems are built using a variety of materials and processes, which require a large carbon footprint, significant waste products and high production time. We have seen experiments of printed electronics using inkjet printing technology to provide a flexible and cheap production alternative to the traditional methods. Inkjet printing has been problematic and still faces numerous challenges such as quality and speed, in its use in electronic system manufacturing. In addition, inkjet printing does not integrate the other aspects of manufacturing like enclosure and final product assembly.We propose the application of 3D printing technology to support an integrative process for combining circuit board fabrication, solder mask process, electronic component pick and place and enclosure manufacturing. Though we have seen 3D printed circuits, they are crude and lack complexity. The extent of most of these 3D printed circuits have functionality of a button or switch. They do not have the ability to support analog functions with components like an op- amp or a digital circuits to the level of a complex computing system. The integration of these separate processes, circuit board fabrication, solder mask process, electronic component pick and place, and enclosure manufacturing, into a single high efficiency 3D printing additive manufacturing process will yield significant savings in energy use, carbon footprint, waste product, and production time and cost.

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