PARC has secured a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop an assembly manufacturing system – Micro-Assembly Printer – giving designers the ability to print nanotechnology-enabled macroscopic objects, where the “ink” is made up of tiny, smart materials. The technology aims to provide a radical new low-cost mass-manufacturing capability for smart materials, says the company.

The result of the project will be a digital Micro-Assembly Printer, where the “inks” are micrometer-size nano-functionalized particles and the “image” outputs are millimeter-scale and larger assemblies. In the future the process could be scaled to centimeter and larger scales, like paper printing. The goal is to print smart materials with the throughput and cost of laser printers, but with the precision and functionality of nanotechnology. The printer will enable short-run production of large, engineered, customized microstructures, such as metamaterials with unique optical properties.

Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland are partnering with PARC to build the Micro-Assembly Printer system. Boston University, University of Notre Dame and HRL Laboratories are producing nano-inks for the printer

DARPA’s Atoms to Product (A2P) program supports research to develop practical miniaturization and assembly methods at scales 100,000 times smaller than what is currently available.

Update: 05-30-2016