FlexTech Alliance, Cal Poly Complete Screen Printing Study for Printed Electronics Applications

FlexTech Alliance

United States

San Jose, Calif. (May 14, 2014) – The FlexTech Alliance today announced the completion of a two-year, $40,000 study to explore the capabilities of screen printing electronics with the Graphic Communication Department at the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly). The partnership, which was launched in late 2012, investigated low viscosity inks to produce thin ink films and fine features with the intent to help the printing industry better understand and adopt printed electronics technologies.
The study, which was titled “Characterizations of Screen Printing Low Viscosity Ink, Thin Film and Small Features for Printed Electronics Applications,” explored the capabilities of screen printing in producing fine features (30 microns or less), and thin ink films (a few microns to submicron), all while using inks having much lower viscosity (a few thousands to a few hundreds centipoises) than typical screen printing inks. This study also investigated the impact of mesh technologies, ink rheology, and printing conditions on feature quality measured in width, thickness and electrical resistance.
“Screen printing is a widely used printing process for the semiconductor industry. If screen printing can produce finer features and thinner ink films, it will help the industry replace more expensive processes and expand existing screen printing lines for new printed electronics products. We applaud and support Cal Poly’s efforts to dive in and explore the available options for the semiconductor industry,” said Michael Ciesinski, CEO of FlexTech Alliance.
The project provided systematical analysis of the impacts of printing and material characteristics to print quality while screen printing fine features. The results of the study concluded that ink rheological properties play a significant role in printing fine features. And while substrates and printing conditions had an impact on printing fine features, their bearing was not nearly as substantial as ink rheological properties. Under the optimized conditions, screen printing can print fine features around 40 microns. However, the study did conclude that it is difficult to print fine features with low viscosity inks (e.g. gravure inks).
The project team included Drs. Xiaoying Rong and Malcom Keif in the Graphic Communication Department Cal Poly State University at San Luis Obispo.
“With optimized printing parameters, fine features can be screen printed with commercially available inks, mesh, and emulsion. The conclusions of this study support the theory that cost-effective production methods do exist in the printed electronics industry that simplify the fabrication processes while utilizing existing technology and equipment,” added Dr. Rong.
About FlexTech Alliance
FlexTech Alliance is devoted to fostering the growth, profitability and success of the electronic display and the flexible, printed electronics supply chain. FlexTech Alliance offers expanded collaboration between and among industry, academia, government, and research organizations for advancing displays and flexible, printed electronics from R&D to commercialization. More information about FlexTech Alliance can be found at www.flextech.org.
About the Cal Poly Graphic Communication Department
Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Department offers a curriculum that appeals to students having an interest in creativity, science, technology and management. Graphic communication includes electronic and traditional printing, publishing, packaging, digital imaging, computer graphics, website development, digital photography, printable electronics and related areas. The discipline includes media and mass communication involving the creation, production, management and distribution of advertising, marketing, web sites, books, magazines, newspapers, catalogs, packages and other media in printed and digital form. The program offers both a Bachelor’s of Science as well as a new Master’s of Science in Printed Electronics and Functional Imaging. Graduates are in high demand by leading national and international corporations. More information can be found at the department website www.grc.calpoly.edu.