The CIA Is Investing In 3D Printers That Can Build Electronics

The CIA Is Investing In 3D Printers That Can Build Electronics

The 3D-printing industry is still very much in its infancy. But that could change if the CIA has its way. The intelligence agency's venture capital firm just invested in Voxel8, the company behind the first multi-material, 3D electronics printer.

What does the CIA want with 3D printing? We can only guess at this point, but we may hear stories one day of how some futuristic James Bond 3D-printed his own gadgets in the field. What's the potential impact for consumers? The move might just jumpstart a field that has so far been struggling to find its footing.

Voxel8 says they aren't interested in making "trinkets" -- a slam on the kinds of products the broader 3D printing community has certainly come to be known for. Massachusetts-based Voxel8 wants to help people make serious, 3D printed machines with electronic parts fully baked in.

Technically, this new investment isn't coming directly from the CIA. The money flows from their investment arm, In-Q-Tel, which was founded in 1999 to support the development of technologies that may be useful to the intelligence community.

You may not be familiar with In-Q-Tel, but you'd probably recognise the companies they have invested in over the years: Palantir Technologies, D-Wave Systems and Pelican Imaging, just to name a few.

"We are pleased to be partnering with Voxel8 to further develop its multi-material 3D printing technology," said Megan Anderson, the Vice President of Field Deployable Technologies at In-Q-Tel in a statement. "The customisation enabled by Voxel8's technology allows users to quickly create new devices without the inconvenience of tooling, inventory, and supply chains associated with traditional manufacturing methods."

3D printing has been off to a less than flashy start so far. But with a little help from the intelligence community, the technology could find a new purpose that opens up doors for civilian use.

Picture: Screenshot of a Voxel8 printer via YouTube



    You can 3d print electronics. That's done via lithography and chemical doping which infuses very precise amounts of the various chemicals used to create the atomic level junctions in the substrates.. You can use 3d printers to make the circuit boards and maybe limited number of discrete components, but that's about it. But it does make you wonder in the light of the CIA and NSA more recent activities what exactly they are going to use the millions they will no doubt claim is needed to "progress" this technology.

    Sad to see how people care less and less about the afterlife of their products. How the hell would you recycle that 3D quadcopter? 3D printing will just add more plastic in the ocean, that's the last thing we need.

    Last edited 07/03/15 3:37 pm

      Educate yourself.

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