Sun Feb 13 20:54:06 EST 2011

Fix electronics prototyping

I was watching [1].  It was a bit disappointing after all the big
words in the abstract.  And as he explained in the talk: it doesn't
solve vias.  However, his problem exposition in the beginning is spot
on though: electronics prototyping sucks.

What is needed is something thoroughly different.  I don't think it's
possible to improve on PCBs for mass production, but for prototyping
they suck.

Fixing the prototyping problem would mean a revolution.

What struck me in the talk is that you really just need to solve the
3D printing problem, where your "bricks" are 2 kinds: conducting and
non-conducting.  In this case you don't even need layers, just a
possibility to cross wires, i.e.:

      . . . . .
      . X X X .
. . . . X o X . . . . .

here "X" is the insulator, and "." and "o" are the conducting wires.

So instead of printing with voxels (volume pixels), why not print with
wire strips?  If there is no etching, there is no need for rounded
corners, and a grid can be used.

 * Pick-and-place machine that places small pieces of wire on some
   kind of (embossed?)  substrate, and then point-solders them where
   they need to be joined.

 * Cutting trenches, filling with molten metal?

 * Start with a patterned pcb and cut traces?

[1] http://events.ccc.de/congress/2010/Fahrplan/events/4099.en.html