Study focused on conductive ink characteristics in production roll-to-roll and roll-to-sheet manufacturing
FlexTech Alliance, focused on developing the electronic display and flexible, printed electronics industry supply chains, announced the completion of a research project with Clemson University for benchmarking printing processes in roll-to-roll manufacturing of printed electronics components. The FlexTech Alliance funded study is an important first step in understanding conductive printed features fabricated using full-scale printing presses as opposed to laboratory scale equipment.
The study, performed at the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics at Clemson University, yielded a number of insights into the performance of flexographically printed conductive features. A variety of factors were investigated including plate type and preparation conditions, plate tint and patterning, press speed, substrate type, printed feature size, press orientation, and line and gap width. The printed traces were evaluated by electrical and optical measurements. Over 45,000 resistances were measured, and nearly 1,000 three-dimensional optical profiles were obtained.
“The biggest roadblock in completing all of the press trials was obtaining the volume of conductive inks required to conduct the benchmarking,” commented Charles Tonkin, director of the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics at Clemson University. “However, we made tremendous progress in understanding the variables of anilox cell volume and its impact on conductivity, the printed feature performance of different substrate materials, the impact of orientation of the printed features relative to the press direction, and the inconsistencies between plate type and associated factors.”
“The benchmarks established by the Clemson University study significantly moves us along the path to commercialization,” said Michael Ciesinski, CEO of the FlexTech Alliance. “The study provides knowledge of critical factors influencing process variability for printed, flexible electronics. We’re now evaluating next steps to further the work Clemson has initiated.”
Full results of the study were made available to FlexTech Alliance members.
Clemson dedicated the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics in March 2009. It is the only university program in the country that brings together packaging science, graphic communication, and the materials, environmental science, manufacturing, marketing and psychology disciplines to study packaging methods. See http://sonocoinstitute.com.