November 09, 2012 -- The rush for Printed Electronics is on. High speed & high volume makes it an economical solution for many areas of manufacturing that are beginning to incorporate "smarts or functions" for everyday products.
I just saw a TV advertisement for a battery operated toothbrush which plays music while one brushes. These gizmos are coming out of the woods everyday and many more cannot be contemplated unless there is a break from traditional circuit boards.
That alternative is what PE is all about. The ability to produce something in a more economical fashion that allows the product to be used in proportion to its cost.
There are several ways of producing printed electronics yet every printing process has one required common element: The conductive ink itself, whether it be high speed printable, digitally printed with inkjet systems or the basic screen print type.
Designers face a multitude of characteristic variables when considering inks. The conductivity/resistance variables in the product itself and the trace width/thickness that ends up being deposited. This alone can effect the method of print selected and ultimatly the cost. The choice in substrate material affects the ink type chosen with the fundamental requirement of sticking to its surface. Another consideration is the method of cure: will it affect the substrate and the integrity of the print itself during cure? Will the ink stand flexing? Will the environment conditions affect the performance of the product?
AN ALTERNATIVE TO INKS: PDIM
Imagine all of the benifits of printing but without the issues of conductive inks. PDIM (Pre-Deposited Images in Metal) is exactly providing these benifits.
Metal Deposition on thin plastic films has been around for years. What is new is that PDIM replicates desired images in PURE metal in an ADDITIVE and SELECTIVE means. What you want is what you get without any substrative materials eliminating consumables and their costs during the manufacturing of your image.
Flexible to the point of being foldable, R2R production at high speeds, metal applied at its own bulk resistance eliminates the many variables of ink.
PDIM can be used stand alone or be enhanced in a number of ways including the build up of PURE metal using electroplating. PDIM prototyping for proof of concept or smaller production can also be possible by laser ablation means. This all digital method is a welcomed development complementing PDIM offerings.
A highly modified Vacuum Metal Deposition system is used to produce the metal images on plastic film. Many options in the subtrate and the metals are available. For electronics, typical is silver, aluminum or copper on either PET or Kapton amongst others all demonstrating high flexibility and adhesion characteristics.
Applications abound with PDIM, ranging from the lowly gizmo incorporated in packaging, RFID, RF, Interactive touch screen, alternative TCF, electrodes for light (EL/OLED), solar PV cells, medical strips, disposable electronics and more. PDIM is available as a service to anyone contemplating the use of "Printed" Printed Electronics.