At the 15th IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe conference and exhibition in Berlin on April 10-11, four companies were honoured for their great achievements in developing and commercialising printed electronics technologies. The judges of the awards were Dr Graham Anderson from BEKO, Dr Kiarash Vakhshouri from Google and Dr Adeline Koay from Diageo. The awards were presented by Dr Richard Collins of IDTechEx in Berlin on 10 April 2019. A summary of the awards and winners are as follows:
Technical Development Materials: MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions
Technical Development Manufacturing: Centre for Process Innovation, UK
Technical Development Materials - MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions
One of the missing pieces in printed electronics is a highly conductive yet low temperature processable component adhesive solution. Traditional solder requires higher temperature and therefore more expensive substrates to be used than PET. Conductive adhesives suitable for PET tend to have lower conductivity.
MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions wins this award for developing a novel ultra low temperature solution for PET-Flex PCBs, enabling component assembly at temperatures below 145°C.
The judges agree that this is potentially a disruptive materials technology. The company states, "This material has the potential to revolutionize the way printed electronic circuits are being manufactured and used today. Deriving from the merits of both: substrates from printed electronics and SMT capable soldering materials, this technology paves the way for electronics manufacturers to cost effectively produce state of the art and reliable electronic devices, without sacrificing design freedom. Many new applications will be enabled such as smart packaging, IoT, medical and other sensors.
One of the judges reported, "This potentially has a significant impact on everything electronic and electrical in the world today if this technology is successful. This is an enabling technology for other techs or platforms to springboard their own technological advances."
Technical Development Manufacturing - Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), UK
The multi-component roll to roll electronic assembly line at the Centre for Process Innovation provides electronics assembly capability for large area and flexible electronic assemblies which use a wide range of components. The system allows for flexible ICs, silicon die from wafer and conventional components to be assembled on continuous rolls of flexible substrates. It includes alternatives approaches to component attach including thermodes and surface mount oven which allows isotropic and anisotropic adhesives and pastes to be used for the component attach. Component encapsulation and automatic optical inspection provide for reliable assembly of circuits which can be used in a wised range of applications.
One of the judges reported, "From the point of view as an end user, one of the major issues with new technologies is the route to manufacture. Innovative centres like CPI can be an important part of this and the line that they are demonstrating here is very impressive and I hope it will be used to bridge the gap between research and manufacturing."
Best Institute/Academic R&D Award - Fraunhofer IAP/IMEC/TNO/Holst Centre
Inkjet printing is well established in the printed electronics industry. There are limitations of inkjet printing in two aspects: limit in resolution and limit to a viscosity range of 1 to 40 cp.
The winners were given this award for the new ESJET technology developed within the Hi-Response project which can overcome the limitations of inkjet with respect to low feature sizes. A further advantage of the ESJET printing technology is that inks with a broad range of viscosities are printable from 1 cp up to 10.000 cp allowing for a large flexibility in the adjustment of the ink formulation.
The winners report, "Within this project, we achieved printing features down to 10 µm and even below on different types of surfaces. The ESJET has been applied for printing OLEDs directly on an active matrix backplane, as designed and fabricated by IMEC and TNO/Holst. Resolution studies revealed reliable printing into pixel defining areas of 10 µm with 25 µm pitch, which corresponds to a resolution of 1016 dpi. The active matrix display was realized with 300 ppi resolution as a monochrome display."
One of the judges reported, "Being able to reliably print low feature sizes with inkjet printing will help to open up more applications, from printing OLED displays to electrodes for different applications."
Best Product Award - Stora Enso Intelligent Packaging
Stora Enso has recently introduced ECO RFID Tags to the RFID industry. These tags are manufactured with a scalable plastic and etching free manufacturing solution. As a manufacturing technology it approaches tag production from a printing perspective, which removes the need for excessive and harmful chemicals during the manufacturing process. It requires significantly less space and manufacturing complexity opening new and more flexible models for RFID production.
By integrating the RFID tag with a paper label, the manufacturing process becomes more scalable and, as result, also more cost-effective - all without compromising on performance and reliability, according to the company. The ECO tag can be recycled in an environmentally friendly way together with paper and board materials. Moreover, it offers high conductivity at a lower cost compared with graphene or silver printed antennas and has similar performance as multilayered plastic RFID tags. This manufacturing technology changes the IC attachment process.
One of the judges commented, "This one really struck me as meeting a future unmet need. The RFID market is an area that has been monitored for a while and there will be many new applications in the future. One concern is the sustainability aspect, this technology addresses this and should be relevant for many other markets also."
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