Neotech AMT GmbH has been pioneering 3D Printed Electronics (3D PE) since 2009 and continues to push the boundaries in this emerging field. Two fundamental processing chains have been developed that cover scalable manufacture from one off prototypes through to high volume production. Initial development focused on printing electronics onto 3D substrates produced by traditional manufacturing methods, for example injection moulding. This allows the 3DPE to be scaled using the patented 45X systems to meet volume requirements for example in mobile communications. A second route, combining 3D PE with classical 3D Printing of the mechanical structures in thermoplastics and ceramics is now under development. This "Fully Additive" process manufactures of complex mechatronic devices for prototyping and low volume manufacturing. Planned developments will scale the throughput to meet higher volume manufacturing: combining novel designs and improved economics with Additive Manufacturing agility.
Both process routes combine a reconfigurable array of printing and post processing techniques that combine with SMD technologies. The resultant process chains can be easily reconfigured to cope with rapid changes in product type. Selection of the most appropriate print (jetting, aerosol, inkjet, dispensing) and post-processing (sintering, curing) methods allow the optimised processing. Neotech's proprietary CAD/CAM software, Motion3D, completes the production process allowing the simple design and production of the machine tool manufacturing code even for complex products.
3D PE also has the potential to improve the environmental balance of electronics compared to current PCB based systems by reducing the parts count, materials mix and waste. To build on these fundamentals, Neotech is developing highly automated, and sustainable electronics recycling. The company recently received a patent for a new methodology harnessing digitally driven processes (German Patent No. DE 102018125216). In this method the CAD/CAM software automatically creates and stores a recycling code for automated product disassembly during the initial production process programming. This recycling code is stored, so at the end of service life, a products constituent components can be individually separated for recycling and partly be direct re-use in new products. The invention effectively drives automated reverse manufacturing on the original production equipment with full traceability on the constituent components and materials.
Dr Martin Hedges, Managing Director of Neotech explains: "Current electronics manufacturing has created a huge global problem of complex, wasteful and often environmentally damaging recycling and disposal. The advent of Printed Electronics can simplify and reduce the cost of electronics recycling but recycling still relies on manual labour intensive processes. This invention lays the foundation for more sustainable electronics across. Furthermore, this technology will give full materials traceability allowing OEMs to capture increasingly valuable resources from their used products."
About Neotech ATM - Neotech AMT GmbH is a globally leading company supplying manufacturing technologies for 3D Printed Electronics. Neotech's patented 45X systems are designed for volume manufacturing with the 15X series is being used for R&D and product development. The key markets addressed include automotive, mobile communications and industrial applications. In 2019 Noetech was awarded the prodigious Innovation Prize by TüV Süd.
Source and top image: Neotech AMT GmbH