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Research & Technology

Researchers are developing flexible electronics

Flexible electronics from 3D printers have come within close reach thanks to a new concept from a team of researchers. Now, however, conventional additive manufacturing needs to keep pace with these developments.

16 May. 2019
HMI-ID04-086ds_UniHamburg_FOtto
A silver nanowire mesh represents flexible electronics (Photo: University of Hamburg, Ferdinand Otto)

The new process being tested by the University of Hamburg and DESY makes it possible to produce transparent, mechanically flexible electronic circuitry. It applies silver nanowires in a suspension to a substrate, which is then dried. Layer by layer, a conductive surface emerges. Depending on the design, this method can be used to print a variety of electronic components. The researchers have already tested the process on the production of a flexible capacitor – using a conventional layer technique, however. In the future, a 3D printer will be able to achieve an equivalent result. However, improvements in printing technology will need to be made for this to happen. “For inkjet-based processes, nanostructures can clog the injectors,” explains Michael Rübhausen from the University of Hamburg.

Last year, Dr. Anna-Lena Gutberlet , a member of the “Elektronikpraxis,” described 3D-printed electronics as “the holy grail of electronics manufacturing.” Experts in this field will be convening in Würzburg on July 10 for the third Praxisforum . Its target groups include production experts and decision-makers in the industrial value-creation chain.

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