How does it work?
How long does it take to make a board?
It's very quick. A simple board like the Hello World will take about 5 minutes to print, 30 minutes for the ink to dry, and depending on how fast you place your components about 10-15 minutes to dispense solder paste and reflow.
You can comfortably make a simple single layer board in under an hour.
What is the print area of the Voltera V-One?
127mm x 104mm (5.0" x 4.1")
Can the V-One make vias and through holes?
Yes - this is realised with the V-One Drill which is an attachment to the V-One
The V-One Drill makes double sided boards much easier to create and comes with all the drill bits, rivets and other accessories you need to get started. Learn more about it here.
Does the V-One pick and place components?
The V-One currently does not have an integrated pick-and-place, so components must be placed by hand. The V-One has been designed to be a prototyping tool. At these volumes setting up a pick and place machine can take more time and effort than manual placement.
Can it print more than 2 layers?
We're working hard to expand the functionality of the V-One. Currently we only support 2 layer boards.
Conductive ink and printing
How long does an ink cartridge last?
A single ink cartridge will allow you to print up to 85 Hello World boards. This also equates to 100 m of conductive trace at 8 mil width, or 200 cm2 of solid pour. The number of boards you are able to print will depend on size and complexity of the circuits you are building.
The ink cartridge has an official shelf life of 6 months and should be stored in the refrigerator when not used.
Are there frequency or current limitations?
An 8 month research partnership with the University of Alberta demonstrated the ink will perform on par with standard copper up to 5 GHz.
Does the ink deteriorate over time?
We've tested our printed PCBs under 100mA load for 4 months in ambient, high-temperature (60°C) and low-temperature (5°C) environments, with no detectable change in performance.
How does the ink compare to copper?
The bulk resistivity of our ink is 9.5E-7 Ohms.m and the sheet resistance under typical conditions is 12 mOhms/sq. It is among the best conductive inks on the market and while it is not as conductive as copper, it is capable of handling almost all digital and analog applications.
Am I limited in what components I can use?
We recommend you stick with through-hole for large components like connectors, but use surface mount components for resistors and capacitors.
For passive components, we can dispense ink down to 0402 pads. For IC's, although we officially support 0.8 mm pin to pin pitch, 0.65mm has been shown to work reliably.
Solder paste and reflow
How long does a paste cartridge last?
A single solder paste cartridge will allow you to dispense up to 11,000 0603 solder pads.
The solder paste cartridge has an official shelf life of 8 months and should be stored in the refrigerator when not used.
How long does it take to paste and reflow?
Once you tell the software where the board is mounted, the V-One will take about 5-10 minutes to dispense paste.
Components need to be placed by hand, but once they are placed, reflowing the board only takes about 2 or 3 minutes.
Can I use my own paste and reflow profile?
The heated bed can reach a maximum temperature of 240°C (464°F) in about 2 minutes. If you use your own solder paste you can manually control the temperature to follow your own reflow profile.
If you want to use the V-One mainly for solder paste dispensing of fabbed boards, we offer a special solder alloy for boards with a lead based HASL finish.
Does the solder paste contain lead?
No - elemental analysis of our solder paste alloy shows a 0.01% trace amount of lead. This is well below the maximum of 0.07% required by IPC J-STD-006-B for lead-free solder.
The conductive ink and solder wire are also lead free. Download the MSDS to learn more.
Am I limited in what components I can use?
We can dispense solder paste down to 0402 components and although we officially support a 0.5 mm pin to pin pitch, some of our users have dispensed on 0.4 mm pitch IC's without difficulty. We have also dispensed on BGA components reliably.
Is the software free?
Yes. The software is required to operate the V-One. You can download a copy of it here.
Do I have to learn a new CAD tool?
The Voltera software allows you to use whatever CAD tool you are already comfortable with! You can use EAGLE, Altium, KiCad, Mentor Graphics, Cadence, DipTrace and more! Just export your designs as Gerbers and upload to our software.
Does it update automatically?
Think of apps on your phone. Your software will automatically update with new features, bug fixes, and user experience upgrades. Many of the updates come directly from our users suggestions.
Is the software complicated to use?
We hate it when a perfectly good piece of equipment sits on a shelf collecting dust because no one knows how to operate it. That won't happen with the V-One.
At Voltera, we're obsessed with user experience and take it very seriously. We've gone to great lengths and invested a lot of time in making sure your first print experience is a pleasant one. Whether you're a student, teacher, parent, engineer, or rocket scientist, we made the software friendly and easy for everyone to use.
V-One Drill attachment
What bit sizes are included?
The V-One Drill ships with the following sizes: 0.70mm, 0.80mm, 0.90mm, 1.00mm, 1.60mm. Two drill bits for each size.
If you need different sizes, please contact us.
How are vias and through holes created?
We use rivets! Rivets are just small copper tubes. They are placed in a hole and pressed into place using a special tool. A mechanical connection is made between the top and bottom layers.
The V-One Drill comes with a pack of small rivets (200 pcs, 0.4mm ID) and large rivets (200 pcs, 1.0mm ID).
Can I route shapes? What about copper?
For the time being, only drilling holes are supported. The V-One is not designed to withstand the lateral forces experienced during milling.
What hazards are there? I heard FR4 dust is toxic
We use FR1 - it does not contain fiberglass and is a softer material, which means less wear on the drill bits. FR4 dust, on the other hand, contains fiberglass particles which can be harmful.
I already have a V-One, will it work?
Yes! We have designed the drilling attachment for the V-One. If you struggled with double sided boards in the past, this attachment will make your life easier!
Experiment with the V-One
Can I print with my own inks?
The V-One is a very robust systems and is capable of handling a wide variety of high viscosity fluids. Most fluids can be dispensed right out of the box with little to no modifications.
If you are interested in dispensing your own fluids please contact us. Empty cartridges are available precisely for this reason. If your inks are UV sensitive, we also have UV blocking cartridges.
What substrates can I print on?
Our conductive ink requires a curing process of 200C for 30 minutes. In general, if the substrate can withstand that temperature then you're probably able to print on it.
For rigid substrates we have printed on FR4, glass and ceramics. We have also printed on flex substrates in the past, specifically polyimide (kapton) films.
Do you have inks for flexible electronics?
Yes. We currently offer one ink specifically for flexible applications in our store. Our R&D team is always exploring new inks, we hope to offer more in the future.
Our standard ink is not made for flexible applications and will fracture if bent too aggressively, so we don't recommend it for applications that wil undergo repeated flexing.
Can I get an empty cartridge?
Yes. If you want to fill your own cartridge we have a pack of empty cartridges in our store that come with all the accessories you need to fill them properly.