Additive Manufacturing (AM) based Printed Electronics (PE) is an emerging technique where electronic components and interconnects are printed directly on substrates using a layered technique. The direct printing of the electronic components allows large scale and ultra-thin components to be printed on a wide variety of substrates including glass, silicon and plastic. These attributes make AM based Printed Electronics an invaluable manufacturing technique in the area of electronic sensors and sensor networks where thin, flexible and rugged form factors are very important. However, currently this technology is a labor intensive and manual process with the machine operator using his experience and judgment to slice the CAD file of the part to create 2D layers at different levels. This manual process increases the overall production time as well as the cost of the product and also results in inconsistent quality of parts.
A major challenge faced by existing AM based Printed Electronics users for automating this process is the lack of a standard input file format that can be used by different PE machines for producing the components in layers. To leverage the capabilities of both AM and PE processes, a new file format based on the Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG) technique is proposed in this research paper. This file format data will not only include CAD data in the form of CSG primitives and Boolean representation but will also include manufacturing information related to the AM based PE process. The manufacturing information embedded within this new format will include data about the location of the different electronic components such as interconnects, resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors, memory and substrate, and the materials required for the different components part. Different circuit board components will be represented as primitives or a combination of primitives obtained using CSG technique. In addition to the new file format, a slicing algorithm will also be developed which can be used to create the layers automatically using user inputs. The proposed file format and the slicing algorithm will be explained with the help of a case study.