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BotFactory Introduces Squink – The Future Of Desktop Electronic Circuit Fabrication

BotFactory’s has developed a set of technologies that optimize one-of-a-kind fabrication, effectively shrinking the distance between the factory and the engineer that needs the prototype. The company has announced $1.3 Million funding round led by New York Angels last year.

Below is our interview with JF Brandon, VP of Marketing at BotFactory:

jf-brandon

Q: How did the idea behind BotFactory come about?

A: BotFactory was founded by Nicolas Vansnick, Carlos Ospina and Michael Knox in 2013. Carlos and Nico were grad students at NYU, where Mike is an EE Professor. Nico and Carlos started thinking about the idea of desktop electronics fabrication while in a Bio-Electronic class; The final project for every student was to create an EEG system. After a couple of months of research and ideation, the 8 groups of students had a tight one-month deadline to design-fabricate-test the circuit for their EEG system. In the end, the 7 other groups failed to meet the deadline because they were waiting for their PCB to be fabricated by outside vendors – iterations took two weeks to be made and mistakes were expensive.

This lesson was tremendous – if this was a problem that was typical for any project, then the solution would revolutionize how Electronics are prototyped and fabricated. Working with NYU professor Mike Knox, they founded BotFactory to take all of the fabrication processes and ‘miniaturize them’ for the first time. Up until then, everybody was focused on miniaturizing electronics and chips, but not the processes that are employed to create PCBs.

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Q: How would you describe BotFactory in your own words? What is Squink and how does it work?

A: Our vision is a future where anyone can create an electronic device at their desktop or around the corner in minutes. Typically every electrical engineer, researcher, student or maker has to have boards made by some PCB factory that has been optimized to build batches of thousands of PCBs of the same type. Building a one-of-a-kind is very expensive and very time-consuming. BotFactory has developed a set of technologies that optimize one-of-a-kind fabrication, effectively shrinking the distance between the factory and the engineer that needs the prototype.

Our timing to start BotFactory was never better – recent advances in nanotechnology have made it cost-effective to inkjet print metals (like silver and copper), while advances in image recognition softwares allow to rapidly pick and place components (which typically require powerful computers to photograph a chip, identify it and then place it in the right spot on a PCB board). Our first product, the BotFactory Squink, combines processes typically found in massive 100,000+ sqft PCB factories in China or Japan, condensed to a 1 square foot area.

Squink has three heads that are interchanged to print conductive traces and insulating layers, dispense solder or conductive glues and pick-and-place components. Each Squink has an onboard computer to process the uploaded files and control the fabrication process. Our users connect to Squink using a web browser and follow a wizard that walks them through from start to finish.

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Q: You’ve recently announced a $1.3 million series A funding round; what are your plans?

A: PCB fabrication has not changed much over the last 40 years. We won’t stop until making a circuit board becomes as easy as printing your latest slide deck. We are currently expanding our sales and marketing efforts to educate the market about the numerous advantages of additive manufacturing for Electronics, as well as continuously improve our product. In the span of a year, we have released several major updates for our existing customers, each pushing the boundaries of the technology further: machine speed increased tenfold, wide array of new materials available to print on, multilayering, etc. We have a lot of very interesting stuff in store for the future! Always with the same goal: pushing the boundaries of electronics fabrication further.

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Q: How does the future look like for Squink and your company in general?

A: Our future is very bright! We’ve got a superb core team, a lot of great partners, solid sales and a growing name for ourselves. We’re a runaway train that’s going to change how Electronics is developed and fabricated on a massive level – a paradigm shift you only see only once a decade. We’re still a small company, but we want to keep that Startup ethos going for a while as we grow!

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