Recently, Machine Design published "Who’s Who in 3D Printing Electronics," which covered various entities using 3D printing for final printed-circuit-board (PCB) design and prototyping. A recent acquisition by former Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis shows yet another commitment to providing on-the-fly PCB prototyping tools to mechanical and electrical engineers.
Pettis’ acquisition of Other Machine Co.—a rapid-prototyping company and pioneer for digital desktop manufacturing—is expected to further support engineers, educators, and makers in prototyping endeavors. Pettis is currently the CEO of Bre & Co.—a company that touts a focus on craftsmanship, advanced manufacturing, and iterative design. Other Machine Co. CEO Danielle Applestone will continue to lead the company in Berkeley California.
“Continuing to lead Other Machine Company as CEO is an incredible opportunity, and I’m thrilled to have Bre’s support,” says Applestone. “I look forward to building on our commitment of accessible prototyping machines for professional engineers and empowering a generation of students who use [our products] to learn and make their ideas a reality."
Unlike Makerbot, which focuses on 3D printing, Other Machine Co. tends to focus more on software and hardware for CNC milling—a subtractive technique that carves and etches patterns into existing substrates. Both technologies are useful for achieving the benefits of faster prototyping and lowered costs associated with PCB design. Through the acquisition, Pettis will also gain access to Other Machine Co.’s Othermill Pro milling machine and design software.
Other Machine Co.’s Othermill Pro milling machine and design software is part of the acquisition of Other Machine Co. by Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis.
Priced at around $3,100, the Othermill Pro operates quietly so it can be used in an office or classroom. A designer can use Other Machine Co.’s CNC milling software on their desktop to design a complex PCB and then transfer that file to the mill. The mill, in turn, etches spaces between trace lines on a nonconductive substrate that is plated with a conductive material, such as copper. The Othermill Pro can etch 6-mm spaces between trace lines—similar to some commercial boards today—so that complex designs can be realized.
It also can be used to mill circuit boards and carve 3D shapes from metal, wood, and other materials. The Othermill Pro has been credited with enabling circuit-board prototyping—from design to construction—in a single day. As engineers become more creative in using such machines, additive and subtractive manufacturing could significantly reduce time to market.