Printed electronics combines insights and developments in printing technologies, electronics, chemistry and materials science. The direct structuring method is attractive to electronics manufacturers primarily due to its ability to produce microstructured layers in a much simpler and cheaper way than methods used in conventional electronics. In addition, the possibility exists to realize new and improved functionalities (for example, mechanical flexibility). In the Functional Surfaces research group inkjet and aerosol-jet printing methods are mainly used for this purpose.
From the Selection of Material to the Printing Process
Initially, the synthesis and selection of functionalized materials, their conversion into printable inks and their rheological characterization are addressed. Next, the development process of the corresponding printing technologies, their adaptation to the desired substrate and the morphological characterization of the printed structures are carried out. In the context of technology transfer projects, we support our partners in the placement and introduction of printing processes on site.
Inkjet printing is a contactless method for the transmission of structures and patterns on a substrate by spraying small liquid droplets via a jet nozzle to form a coating. While the production and manufacture of the corresponding printheads (for example, using MEMS technology) has reached an industrial level, the formulation of suitable ink compositions is still a big challenge. Expertise at the MATERIALS Institute in this area has been gradually built up in recent years in order to offer customers tailor-made solutions. Ink formulations must meet particular physico-chemical parameters and specifications (such as viscosity, surface tension and adhesion) to ensure the high precision and reproducibility of structures printed using inkjets.