According to Xerox, a revolutionary new way to build computers is just on the horizon, offering the ability for unique computing devices to be cheaply produced according to individual customer needs. This production process involves a technique known as "xerographic micro-assembly" that breaks down conventional silicon chip designs into thousands of "chiplets," and then custom assembles them with an advanced 3D printer that uses microscopic electric fields to place each mote of silicon smart dust on a template.
Xerographic printing is an extension of Alien Technology's Fluidic Self Assembly process in which nanoblock computing elements float in a solution and are then guided into holes in an appropriate substrate. It can be viewed as an electronic version of Henry Ford's modular part system where each part is smaller than a single grain of sand.
It is still unknown as to whether the new Xerox machine will dispense a mixed semiconductor ink or different inks made of uniform components and whether fragility issues will make traditional interconnections impossible. Though there's no indication that this technology will be replacing circuit boards or chip boards at this time, it offers incredible promise for producing unique computing devices according to individual customer needs.