The Dyson award for engineering has been won by a high-speed printer that can produce circuit boards in just minutes.
The laptop-sized Voltera V-One was created by a group of students at the University of Waterloo, Canada, inspired by the compact design of desktop 3D printers. It uses different inks, conductive and insulating, to create functional, two-layer circuit boards. It is also a solder paste dispenser, meaning components can be added to the board.
Printed circuit boards are essential for technology such as smartphones and biomedical devices — but building them is often a time consuming and expensive process. The V-One’s portable nature means the same principles that guide 3D printing can create prototype boards in minutes.
The team has been awarded $45,000 (£29,800) by the James Dyson Award — on top of a $500,000 (£331,000) Kickstarter fund already raised.
“The Voltera V-One team is made up of four impressive young graduates,” James Dyson said. “Their solution makes prototyping electronics easier and more accessible – particularly to students and small businesses. But it also has the potential to inspire many more budding engineers — something I am very passionate about indeed.”
Runners up for the award included the Express Dive — a small unit that can be used to stay underwater for longer than a snorkel — and the Green Fairy, which uses biodegradable beads loaded with micro-organisms to consume harmful algal blooms.