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Printing process

  The research in the matching ability between printable electronics inks and printing methods is a crucial part of printed electronics development. The theory of physics and chemistry, as well as experience in electronics manufacturing industry show that properties of electrical materials such as crystal form, purity, doping uniformity, surface morphology, interface contacts will greatly affect the performance of the device. The same applies to printing electronic inks. During the printing process, a variety of physical movements and chemical reactions of the printed ink will result the printed functional layers in complex structures, which plays key roles in the electrical properties of the final products. Choosing the right ink,studying if the ink matches the printing method and substrate, and optimizing printing parameters can control the ink movements and reactions then improve the electrical property of the printed pattern。

  PERC has setup a comprehensive printing facility with a wide variety of printing equipments including inkjet printers, gravure printers and screen printers. The minimum printable feature size is about 5 micrometers (aerosol jet printing). The largest size of substrate by screen printer is 400x400mm. Optimized processes for each of the printing method have been developed. In addition, a new hybrid printing process, which combines imprinting and ink filling, is able to produce conductive tracks at below 5 micrometers and with high aspect ratio. The new technique has been applied to produce metal-mesh type of transparent conductive films which can replace the ITO transparent conductive films in touch panels and variety of other applications which require transparent conductors. 

  Pre-printing processes and Post-printing processes also play pivotal roles in printed electronics. For example, substrate treatments in pre-printing processes can significantly improve the quality of printed pattern. While the post-printing operation including sintering and annealing can get much better macro- and micro-structure of the printed film, and make the electrical properties meet the design targets. PERC has equipped both a thermal annealing tunnel and photonic sintering kits including near infrared and ultraviolet sintering for conductive inks.

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