By Anthony Capkun
November 10, 2015 – For the first time, a Canadian team has taken the top spot in the international James Dyson Award, and the prize of about $54,000 should help them further develop their Voltera V-One printed circuit board (PCB) printer.
“We’re at a critical point with Voltera V-One,” said co-founder Jesus Zozaya. “The $54,000 we’ve been awarded as winners of the James Dyson Award will help us to ramp up production.”
PCBs are everywhere, and it is important for engineers, inventors and students working in electronics* R&D to be able to prototype PCBs quickly and cheaply. The process, unfortunately, tends to be time-consuming and expensive. All too often circuit board designs must be sent to a factory overseas for printing, only for the whole process to be repeated as soon as a minor change is required.
So four engineering students from the University of Waterloo—(photo, left to right) Jesus Zozaya, Katarina Ilic, James Pickard and Alroy Almeida—set out to tackle the problem. Their solution: Voltera V-One, a laptop-sized PCB printer that can turn design files into prototype circuit boards in minutes.
The Voltera V-One uses the same rapid prototyping principles that underpin 3-D printing. It lays down conductive and insulating inks to create a functional, 2-layer circuit board. But it’s also a solder paste dispenser, allowing components to be added to the board and reflowed by a 550W heater.
“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,” said James Dyson.
* While the world of electronics is a bit ‘out of bounds’ of our editorial mandate, I nonetheless want to celebrate this Canadian achievement. Congratulations!
— Anthony Capkun, Editor, Electrical Business Magazine • firstname.lastname@example.org