O.K. Found these threads by accident. Here's my facts:
1) Worked in Wire Wrap and Stitch wire - as machine programmer - creating wire wrap paper tapes.
2) Worked in Stich Wire (because we bought them)
3) Worked for MultiWire - The original guys, out of New York, and then in Anaheim CA. Again, working design but also basically sales.
4) Hired by Ariel Electronics - because of my experience with Multiwire and ability to layout boards. Headed up review and implementation of their software to control the machine. Helped to sell the very first one.
I'm part of the US Mohican design tribe, but they are all gone away now. I know of two wire wrap outfits, and one Multiwire company (but I have not talked to them in ages), and Ariel is long gone.
Just ran across another 'new company' today, and I won't defame then - but if you want to use metal impregnated (I use that word carefully!) glue, to make circuit connections, your up against more than you probably have considered. Like copper migration, leeching, and a bunch of factors that will ensure the board will only be good for quick prototypes. And I can design and make a six layer PCB (of moderate size) in 24-48 hours - if I was doing that today - which I sort of am, but I don't like to work that hard anymore
Found this post while looking for who's running this new company, BotFactory, and if they were mentioned here, which it appears they are not. I don't know enough yet, but like I said - history repeats itself. What the conductive substance is precisely what I want to know. Turns out mixing chemicals correctly involves some science, and some magic - when we used to do it.
Thanks for the posts though. I'll just stick to PCB technology for now.
If you can tolerate multiple boards you can even create small subsystems using this technology. Might worry about high speed memory interfaces but low sped serial like spi and i2c are probably fine. Might be an excellent prototype methodology
tb100 wrote: I remember talking with a company that printed wires on the circult board. They could handle large boards (over 3' x 3') and the equivelant of many layers (26+).
You're probably thinking of Multiwire. They started with a conventional 2-layer board with power and ground, and then put layers of insulating plastic on both sides. Then they had a big four-headed robot that embedded fine insulated wire in the plastic from via to via. Since you could cross wires in the same layer, you could get very high density. Usually you only had two signal layers, but you can add more if you like thick boards :-)
Then they put on a top layer of plastic and drilled holes for the vias, exposing the tips of the connection wires and the power/ground layers. Then they chemically plated the holes and "Bob's your uncle".
Multiwire was great for through-hole parts. They tried to add a surface-mount option, but once you go surface-mount Multiwire loses most of its advantage. At the time Multiwire was a great option for small runs of PCBs, especially large panels. When I used them you were limited to 24" by 15.675" if you wanted to save money by having all four robot heads working at once.
I remember talking with a company that printed wires on the circult board. They could handle large boards (over 3' x 3') and the equivelant of many layers (26+). I don't remember how they handled power/ground--maybe that was done as a traditional PCB with the wires printed on it afterwards. I remember that they were very fast at delivering boards after you give them a design. I wonder if this was Ariel?
At first the idea of desktop PCB printer sounded exciting, but the details ended up being anticlimatic. The resolution is not that great and it is an additive process, so drilling, vias, and through hole are pretty much not an option. While it is fast and can do reflow, it would seem that for many projects, I'd end up redoing the layout for final use, and I hate redoing work. For myself, I'd rather take a bit more care and send out to a quick turn place and get what I want the first (or second) time. I'd also like better resolution and copper that has specific thicknesses and conductivity for RF and impedance control.
Certainly, this would be good for other design types and I can see uses in the classroom where quick turn is desired over over features.
@TonyTib - In addition to what you say, wouldn't the ability of a central source to have access to a huge number of components, would make such a service mmuch more attractive than local machine, in most cases ?