Researchers Developing Printed Electronics Using Gravure Press for Creating RFID Tags
Mosley also credits consortium partner IMEC in Belgium for research leading to the special ink formulations used to print the electronic components.
The group’s next challenge is to replace their current printing platform, Labratester 1, with the more sophisticated Labratester 2. Although both presses are capable of printing the tiny structures needed for optical electronics - 25 micron features with 25 micron spacing - Labratester 2 will be able to align sequential layers with 10 micron precision.
“You want to put down one layer and then lay the next one on it in a precise position,” Mosley says. “But the Labratester 1 simply wasn’t equipped to do that.”
He explains that Labratester 2 will use optical cameras to detect alignment marks in order to register each layer precisely over the previous one.
Wide range of expertise CONTACT, which was funded under the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for research, drew together the expertise of leading academic and industrial partners from Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and the UK.
In addition to fabricating the printers, the researchers made advances in formulating, synthesizing and testing new materials, glass technology and thin-films.
Although the 42-month long project has now ended, two of the project partners, Schläelfli and Asulab, have opted to complete and test the Labratester 2 printer. Switzerland-based Asulab, which is part of the Swatch Group, plans to use Labratester 2 to print LCD watch displays.
“There may be opportunities for some clever designs,” says Mosley. “A glass display has to be rectangular or square, but with plastic you can cut it to any shape you want.”
Mosley expects that Labratester 2 will stimulate the entire organic electronics sector. “As far as I’m aware, it will be the most advanced bench top gravure printer available worldwide,” he says. “There’s been a lot of interest in it from laboratories and R&D groups. When you look around the world, there are a lot of people interested in organic electronics.”