This article was written by Antonella Mizzi from M-SOLV.
M-Solv Ltd is a large area electronics (LAE) manufacturing company with 50 people based in Oxford, UK and an Asian support facility in Hong Kong. The company has 3 main business activities: large area electronic device manufacturing; building functional inkjet printers and laser materials processing machines and, underpinning both of those, manufacturing process development, which has led to a wide IP portfolio.
This blog gives some information on process development and manufacturing - we will report on machine building in the near future.
M-Solv has a development lab with 12 processing machines including inkjet systems with a range of printheads and capabilities and laser processing stations with different sources and optics: wavelengths from 1mm to 266nm and pulse lengths from CW to 300 fs with processing areas up to about 1m2 plus roll-to-roll. Needless to say, all these systems have been built in-house. We believe that for a successful development a close working relationship is needed between process provider, material provider, machine developer and end user. So we have developed an extensive network of materials suppliers and other process providers, to align with this philosophy.
Our passion is to help clients with an LAE manufacturing problem: we listen carefully, evaluate the issues and work in a collaborative way to find the right manufacturing approach, recognising the client's knowledge while adding our own competencies. We then use our extensive equipment to run trials and develop manufacturing processes. Client IP is always kept secure. This kind of development work can end with a defined process or can be followed up with supply of process machines for the client's factory or the process can be used in our own Large Area Electronics Foundry.
The foundry is a Class 10,000 cleanroom with several manufacturing tools. Currently the main product made in the foundry is a range of industrial capacitive touch-sensors (up to 27 inch diagonal). These are made for our design and marketing partner Touchnetix using the digital processing methods typically favoured by LAE innovators. The ITO electrode structures are patterned by laser, the bus-bar metallisation is defined by a combination of inkjet printing and laser processing. Protective overcoats are printed. This passive, large area device is bonded to conventional read-out electronics via a flexible printed circuit. No "hard-tooling" is needed for any of these processes, all process steps are defined only by CAD files. This approach allows us to go from a new customer requirement to prototype sensors exceptionally quickly and makes short production runs economically viable. Touchnetix sensors feature excellent multi-touch performance, high tolerance to EMC and harsh atmospheres and environments and extended lifetime. The facility is ISO9001 compliant.
Image attached : M-Solv Class 10,000 cleanroom Large Area Electronics Foundry
Learn more at the next leading event on the topic: Printed Electronics Europe 2019 on 10 - 11 Apr 2019 at Estrel Convention Center, Berlin, Germany hosted by IDTechEx.