Survey: Companies are Eager to Conduct PCB Prototyping In-House


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Polling of printed circuit board (PCB) designers and manufacturers, electrical engineers, OEMs and others interested in 3D-printed PCBs and circuits reveals that there is increasing demand for in-house prototyping for research and product development. The interest is particularly keen among companies that spend as much or more than $100,000 each year for prototyping services.

Of the more than 975 respondents – representing 31 industries and disciplines and 25 countries – participating in the survey conducted by Nano Dimension Ltd., 70 percent spend up to $50,000 and 14 percent noted they spend more than $50,000 each year on PCB prototyping. Additionally, a full 16 percent, or 142 respondents, are paying more than $100,000 to outsourced prototyping vendors annually. Most respondents explained that the prototyping costs were high because they require the fabrication of complex, multilayer PCBs – with 66 percent of those surveyed saying their designs involve multiple layers. 

While more than 9 in 10 respondents said their companies rely on off-site prototyping facilities today, nearly two in three said they believe their intellectual property (IP) is at risk when they do so. Many say they would like options for printing their own PCBs internally. 

“Designers and engineers clearly want faster turnaround times and reduced risk when sending out their design files for prototyping,” said Simon Fried, Nano Dimension’s Chief Business Officer and a company co-founder. “But with nearly all of the manufacturing houses located in Asia, timeliness is rarely an option. In fact, sometimes they end up with PCBs for production that are not optimized as much as they would like due to the long lead times. And sending out designs always increases the odds that the IP could be copied or stolen.” 

Even when the prototyping houses are fully trusted partners, the time constraints associated with outsourcing can stifle creativity. Many designers rely upon “safe” PCB designs rather than exploring innovative new ideas for fear they may lead to multiple iterations – and added delays – with the prototyping facility. 

“With innovative alternatives like Nano Dimension’s DragonFly 2020 3D Printer, the electronics market can finally catch up to other types of manufacturing that have benefited from additive manufacturing,” Fried said. “Our survey shows the need is there, and the market is ready for 3D-printed PCBs that can be made on-site quickly and cost-effectively.” 

Nano Dimension, a leader in the area of 3D printed electronics, hosts the survey on its web site. Respondents represent industries ranging from PCB manufacturers and OEMs to engineering, defense, manufacturing, aerospace, electronics, medical, sensors and wearables, telecommunications, energy and others.

About Nano Dimension

Nano Dimension Ltd., founded in 2012, focuses on development of advanced 3D printed electronics systems and advanced additive manufacturing. Nano Dimension's unique products combine three advanced technologies: 3D inkjet, 3D software and nanomaterials. The company's primary products include the first 3D printer dedicated to printing multi-layer PCBs (printed circuit boards) and advanced nanotechnology-based conductive and dielectric inks.

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