Industrial + Specialty Printing - May/June 2012 issue

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May/june 2012

Printing Flex Circuits P. 22 Special Effects that Pop Manufacturing Medical PE Inkjet Printing of Conductor Lines

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INDUSTRIAL + SPECIALTY PRINTING May/June 2012 • Volume 03/Issue 03



14 Medical Printed Electronics at Katecho Inc.

Ray Greenwood, Katecho Find out how Katecho tackles the production of defibrillator pads and other challenging medical applications.

18 Inkjet Printing of Conductor Lines with Embedded Resistors

Werner Jillek, Ph.D., Georg-Simon-Ohm University of Applied Sciences This article describes how inkjet technology can be used in patterning for various microelectronic applications.

22 Printing: Changing How Electronics Are Made

Gregory L. Whiting, Ph.D., PARC Electronic Materials and Devices Laboratory Learn how recent developments have enabled the fabrication of electronic devices using additive printing techniques.

28 UV Special Effects for Packaging

Mike Young, Imagetek Consulting Int’l Special effects printing and finishing can open new and lucrative market niches for screen printers. groups?gid=2658424

B news-trends/functionality-blog

INDUSTRIAL + SPECIALTY PRINTING, (ISSN 2125-9469) is published bi-monthly by ST Media Group International Inc., 11262 Cornell Park Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45242-1812. Telephone: (513) 421-2050, Fax: (513) 362-0317. No charge for subscriptions to qualified individuals. Annual rate for subscriptions to non-qualified individuals in the U.S.A.: $42 USD. Annual rate for subscriptions in Canada: $70 USD (includes GST & postage); all other countries: $92 (Int’l mail) payable in U.S. funds. Printed in the U.S.A. Copyright 2012, by ST Media Group International Inc. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Industrial + Specialty Printing, P.O. Box 1060, Skokie, IL 60076. Change of address: Send old address label along with new address to Industrial + Specialty Printing, P.O. Box 1060, Skokie, IL 60076. For single copies or back issues: contact Debbie Reed at (513) 421-9356 or Debbie.Reed@ Subscription Services:, Fax: (847) 763-9030, Phone: (847) 763-4938, New Subscriptions:

COLUMNS 10 Business Management

Laura Maybaum, Nazdar The benefi ts and cost considerations of integrating LED curing into the production workflow are examined here.

12 Printed Electronics

Julia Goldstein, Ph.D. The author looks at the ways in which printed electronics are making greeting cards more exciting.

32 Printing Methods

Wim Zoomer, Technical Language This column talks about how to create a lasting impression when imaging on aluminium.

34 Industry Insider

Joe Fjelstad, Verdant Technologies Discover how printing has evolved over the course of many millennia.

36 Shop Tour

Mcloone of LaCrosse, WI manufacturers customized productidentification graphics, overlays, nameplates, and more.

DEPARTMENTS 4 Editorial Response 6 Product Focus 30 Industry News 35 Ad Index ON THE COVER The cover photo shows functional electronics printed on a flexible substrate. Cover Image courtesy PARC. Cover design by Keri Harper.

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Progress in the IoT GAIL FLOWER

Industrial + Specialty Printing


The Internet of Things (IoT) is a phrase coined in 1979 by a British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton. It refers to the connecting of physical things to the Internet via sensors and other devices. Some of the things commonly associated with IoT are roads that have embedded devices that sense traffic jams or the grid, which automatically responds to spikes in usage. You might have picked up on IoT from my last editorial regarding Freescale “making everything smarter” dedication. And recently chip giant Intel announced a rather large investment in IoT. In April 2012, Intel revealed a partnership with the Beijing Municipal Government and the Institute of Automation of Chinese Academy of Sciences, which will concentrate on research related to IoT. The deal will create the China Intel Internet of Things Joint Labs, an R&D center designed to create the core technologies needed for the IoT. Announced at the Intel Developer Forum in China, this deal will cost Intel approximately £20 million for powering the IoT. It sounds like a lot of money, but if lucrative new markets emerge Intel would be in a position to gain from this investment. Intel and Freescale aren’t the only companies looking towards the IoT as the new frontier for electronics. Qualcomm, Intel’s rival, has projects in the field including OpenSource-Peer-to-Peer networking infrastructure AllJoyn. Using AllJoyn, developed by the Qualcomm Innovation Center Inc., many of the problems in enabling platform-to-platform connectivity across different operating systems and device types go away. And earlier this year, the Technology Strategy Board announced that it would be awarding grants of up to £50,000 to British companies working in the same area. So far, ten companies have each received the full award to undertake preparatory studies to better understand how to move towards an application or to apply services to the IoT. On a large scale, globe-spanning sensor

networks will be able to monitor climate changes. On a smaller scale, it will build methods of interconnecting product cycles, much like RFID tags are used to trace, track, and monitor products in volume. The more data, the better use of knowledge-based decision making, right? It’s already happening. A survey of senior-level state and local policy makers and managers showed that more than 40% of them have smart technology projects or pilots underway in their jurisdictions. Results are based on responses from 113 members of the Governing Exchange, an online community of government executives. In 2008, the number of devices connected to the internet already exceeded the number of people on earth. And according to the EE Times survey results reported on Dec. 6, 2012, IoT ranked number three among the 20 hot technologies for 2012. Plastic electronics, with organic materials for electronics holding out the possibility of low-cost and biodegradeable circuits (thing RFID tags and other related areas) ranked number 4. And, guess what took the number 6 spot? Printed Electronics. It’s nice to know that recognition as a hot technology falls to industrial, functional, printed products. At present, companies such as Innovia have produced biaxallyoriented propylene (BOPP) label substrates that include printed electronics and LED die. Pragmatic Printing Ltd., a pioneer in printed electronics has worked with Innovia Films Ltd., the manufacturer of specialized films to create interactive bottle labels. When held, the bottle labels activate a series of flashing lights. There are so many other examples from greeting cards, to near-field communications for bill paying using cell phones as an electronic wallet. Soon, we can look for OLEDs and solar panels build into construction materials. The more we get used to what’s available, the more the Internet of Things will become part our everyday lives.


STEVE DUCCILLI Group Publisher GREGORY SHARPLESS Associate Publisher GAIL FLOWER Editor BEN P. ROSENFIELD Managing Editor KERI HARPER Art Director LINDA VOLZ Production Coordinator BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Steve Duccilli EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Joe Fjelstad, Brendan Florez, Dolf Kahle, Bruce Kahn, Ph.D., Rita Mohanty, Ph.D., Scott Moncrieff, Randall Sherman, Mike Young, Wim Zoomer

JERRY SWORMSTEDT Chairman of the Board TEDD SWORMSTEDT President KARI FREUDENBERGER Director of Online Media

CUSTOMER SERVICE Industrial + Specialty Printing Magazine Customer Service P.O. Box 1060 Skokie, IL 60076 F: 847-763-9040

advisory board

Joe Fjelstad

Verdant Electronics

Joseph Fjelstad ( is a 34-year veteran of the electronics-interconnection industry and is an international authority, author, columnist, lecturer, and innovator who holds more than 150 issued and pending US patents in the field. He is the founder and president of Verdant Electronics, a firm dedicated to environmentally friendly electronics assembly. He is co-founder and CEO of SiliconPipe, a specialist in high-speed interconnection-architecture design, much of which is based on flexible-circuit technology. Prior to founding SiliconPipe, he worked with IC-package-technology developer Tessera Technologies, where he was appointed the company’s first fellow. Fjelstad and his innovations have received many industry awards and accolades.

rita mohanty, ph.d.

Speedline Technology

Rita Mohanty ( is the director of advanced development at Speedline Technology and a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt instructor. She has more than 15 years of experience in industries and academics relating to engineering and electronic polymers, electronic packaging, and board assembly. She is a patent holder and has authored and edited books on electronics and numerous technical papers. Mohanty is active in and holds various leadership positions with IMAPS, SMTA, IPC, iNEME, and SGIA. She received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Rhode Island.

Scott MonCrieff

Canyon Graphics Inc.

brendan florez


Brendan Florez ( is assistant general manager for Skokie, IL-based Polyera Corp. He holds a B.S.E. in electrical engineering from Princeton University and has an extensive background in marketing, project and change management, software design, and more.

Scott Moncrieff (NEED EMAIL ADDRESS HERE) is president and CEO of Canyon Graphics Inc. located in San Diego, California. Mr. Moncrieff started Canyon Graphics over 30 years ago and has specialized in In-mold Decoration for the last 9 years. As one of the few totally vertically integrated IMD companies in the US, Canyon Graphics has produced millions of film appliqués and IMD parts during this period. Having been involved in printed electronics over the years has made it possible for Canyon Graphics to develop various IME (In-mold Electronics)


New Venture Research

Dolf Kahle

Visual Marking Systems, Inc.

Dolf Kahle ( is the CEO of Twinsburg, OH-based Visual Marking Systems, Inc., (VMS), a company that specializes in the OEM durable-product-identification market and manufactures overlays, decals, and decorative trim for Fortune 1000 companies. Beyond the OEM market, VMS also produces fleet graphics, P-O-P products, and durable signage for the public-transportation market. VMS is an ISO 9000- certified company that enjoys statewide recognition as a Lean Enterprise. Kahle is an active member of SGIA, SPIRE, and GPI. He served on the SGIA board for more than 10 years and was its chairman in 1999. He is currently the chairman of SPIRE. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Arizona State University.

Bruce kahn, ph.d.

Randall Sherman (rsherman@newventureresearch. com) is the president and CEO of New Venture Research, a technology market research firm. He holds a B.S. in astrophysics, an M.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado, and an M.B.A. from Edinburgh School of Business. Visit www. for more information.

mike young

Imagetek Consulting Int’l.

Mike Young ( has spent 40 years as a specialist in high-definition graphic and industrial screen printing. He is an SGIA Fellow, a member of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology, and a recipient of the prestigious Swormstedt Award for technical writing. He frequently writes for industry trade publications and speaks at international industry events. Young has published several technical books on advanced screen-printing techniques and frequently conducts seminars for high-profile screen-printing companies worldwide. Young is a consultant with Imagetek Consulting Int’l.

wim zoomer

Technical Language

Printed Electronics Consulting

Bruce Kahn ( is a consultant who specializes in the multidisciplinary fields of printable electronics, nanotechnology, RFID, and smart packaging. Kahn holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Nebraska and is the author of more than 75 publications, including the recently published “Developments in Printable Organic Transistors,” “Printed and Thin Film Photovoltaics and Batteries,” and “Displays and Lighting: OLED, e-paper, electroluminescent and beyond.” He is a frequent lecturer and author, and he regularly teaches workshops in the U.S. and abroad.

Wim Zoomer ( is owner of Nijmegen, Netherlands-based Technical Language, a consulting and communication business that focuses on flatbed and reelto-reel rotary screen printing and other printing processes. He has written numerous articles for international screen-printing, art, and glass-processing magazines and is frequently called on to translate technical documents, manuals, books, advertisements, and other materials in English, French, German, Spanish, and Dutch. He is also the author of the book, “Printing Flat Glass,” as well as several case studies that appear online. He holds a degree in chemical engineering. You can visit his Website at may/june 2012 | 5

product focus

The latest equipment and materials for industrial printing

Inkjet Printhead Fujifilm Dimatix ( recently introduced the SG-1024 single-pass printhead. The company describes it as a high-nozzle-density, drop-on-demand, inkjet printhead designed specifically for demanding industrial single-pass printing and decorative applications. Dimatix also says the printhead features high-performance, repairable construction that combines superior jetting performance in a compact, self-contained design. Each printhead has 1024 independent jets arranged in eight rows, each with 128 channels. The printhead supports nominal 20- to 30-pl drop size (fluid-dependent) and is compatible with aqueous, oil-based ceramic inks and associated maintenance fluids. According to Dimatix, SG-1024 incorporates RediJet technology, which involves a unique nozzle-plate design, special conformal and non-wetting surface coatings, enhanced on-head electronics, ink recirculation, and waveforms tailored to specific fluids.

UV LED Curing Lamps

The FirePower family of UV LED lamps is now available from Phoseon Technology ( The water-cooled LED curing lamps offer either 12W/sq cm or 16W/ sq cm peak irradiance. According to Phoseon, these products offer advanced capability for new applications in flexographic and wide-format digital printing while also allowing system builders to increase their speed in other applications. FirePower comes in three curing lengths: 6 x 0.8, 9 x 0.8, and 12 x 0.8 in. (150 x 20, 225 x 20, and 300 x 20 mm).

Design Software Corel ( recently announced the launch of CorelDraw Graphics Suite X6. According to Corel, it offers a completely revamped typography engine, inspiring new color styles and harmonies, and powerful shaping tools. New features include advanced OpenType support, custom-built color harmonies, 64-bit and enhanced multi-core support, vector-shaping tools, new Styles Engine and Docker, and more. CorelDraw Graphics Suite X6 includes CorelDraw X6, Photo-Paint X6, PowerTrace X6, Connect X6, Capture X6, and Website Creator X6.

6 | Industrial + Specialt y Printing

Wide-Format Flatbed Inkjet Printer Agfa Graphics North America (, has unveiled the :Anapurna M2540 FB, billed as an entry-level flatbed inkjet printer. According to Agfa, the unit is a time saver that features revolutionary quick-change vacuum-bed technology and six-color printing (CMYKLcLm) with white ink. Designed to accommodate the growing market needs for printing on rigid substrates, the :Anapurna M2540 FB has a maximum print speed of 484 sq ft/hr (45 sq m/hr) and can print sizes of 8.3 x 5 ft (2.5 x 1.5 m) with substrates up to 1.77 in. (45 mm) thick. Its UV-curable ink is compatible with glass, ceramics, wood, and more.

Drying Racks

Aluminum Composite Materials

Gran Adell Manufacturing ( recently brought a new line of drying racks to the screen-printing market. According to Gran Adell, the multi-rack units are durable, productionquality units that are designed for decades of commercial use. They feature up to 50 spring-loaded, all metal trays, and users can flip unused trays out of the way. The drying racks are available in a range of custom configurations in standard dimensions up to 52 x 81 in. (1321 x 2057 mm).

The Graphic-Al line of aluminum composite materials (ACMs) is now available from Océ ( The company says the products are ideal for use with the Océ Arizona Series flatbed UV inkjet printers and other wide-format systems. The entire Graphic-Al collection is produced by continuous coil coating and laminating processes, and the ACMs can be modified by using a saw or substrate cutter. They can also be contour-cut. GraphicAl DP is a direct-printable composite material. Graphic-Al LT is billed as a lightweight, reversible material that offers excellent flatness and high rigidity. Graphic-Al HP is a flat, rigid material coated with a polyester paint that’s formulated to keep its original appearance for years. Graphic-Al OR is engineered for exceptional rigidity, excellent flatness, and superior smoothness.

Media for Indigo Printers DP Series Specialty Media from Mitsubishi Imaging ( is designed for use with HP Indigo presses. DP Series is designated as an HP Indigo-certified substrate and is available in seven different surface finishes, from 8-10 mil, and in single- and double-sided finishes graphic reproduction without the need for lamination.

Digital Cutting System The new S3 cutting system from Zund (www. features modular tooling for processing a variety of materials up to 1 in. (25.4 mm) thick. Zund says a high-performance direct-drive system maximizes processing speeds and accuracy and explains that synchronized components guarantee maximum productivity and longevity. Vacuumwidth adjustments are performed automatically through Zund Cut Center software. The system’s universal passive roll-off accommodates applications that involve frequent roll changes. Passiveand active-shaft-based roll-off units are available for special applications and work that involves materials prone to stretching, such as textiles. The S3 also features 1.2-in. (30-mm) clearance between the beam and cutting surface. may/june 2012 | 7

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Printing equipment used in manufacturing News & Trends



• Automating Your Pad-Printing Operation Automation is an important part of efficient, consistent pad printing. Find out about some of the options designed to enhance speed and precision for industrial applications. • Membrane Switch: Screen Printing 101 The membrane-switch market has experienced dramatic growth and soared to an unprecedented level. • Industry Insider The Importance of Printed Electronics to P&G

March/april 2010 printing photovoltaics P. 22



Top Stories • Printing Photovoltaics Screen printing photovoltaic cells is the most reliable method and fastest growing application in industrial printing.

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Silver Paste DuPont Microcircuit Materials ( com) recently introduced Solamet PV416 photovoltaic metallization, a new frontside silver-paste material designed to raise the efficiency of thin-film photovoltaic cells. According to DuPont, the new silver composition has the capability to be processed at temperatures less than 284°F (140°C) and provides improved contact resistance, conductivity, adhesion and fine-line resolution when printed on transparent conductive oxides. it is formulated to offer printed conductivity of 10 mΩ/sq at 25 μm), low contact resistance (3 mΩ/sq cm), and superior line resolution (<100 μm).


Chip Adhesive

Henkel’s ( Loctite 3621 is a surface-mount adhesive (SMA) that’s compatible with non-contact dispensing technology and formulated to enable higher throughput and more uniform dot dimensions. According to Henkel, Loctite 3621’s unique rheology helps alleviate some of the drawbacks with traditional needle dispensing and facilitates dispensing speeds nearly four times faster compared to needle techniques. The SMA supports applications speeds up to 40,000 dots/hr and is engineered for excellent wet strength and fast curing. Henkel says Loctite 3621 offers shelf life of one month at room temperature and ten months in refrigerated storage.

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Flat Screen Head–offers the highest quality screen printing. Servo Drives–superior tension control provides enhanced register capabilities. Single Pass Production–reduces waste and increases production.

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business management

The Growing Impact of LED Curing Laura Maybaum Nazdar

The cool nature of LED curing over more traditional mercury vapor curing is firmly entrenched in digital printing and gaining momentum in screen printing. Whereas a few years ago, LED systems were just coming onto the market with 4-watt systems, today they range upwards of 16 watts and more. LED curing is expanding into sectors of the printing and coating market that were thought untouchable. With the advances in ink formulations, LED curing continues to prove that it is a viable alternative to medium-pressure mercury lamps for many digital and screen printers.

intense UV output across a broad range of spectrum output with specific, high-level intensity at curtain nanometers. This is seen in the graph as blue bars across a range of wavelength. UV LED lamps, on the other hand, output at a narrow spectral output, mostly commonly at 365 and 395 nm with a Âą20 nm at the peak wavelength, as seen in Figure 1 as a green and purple line. While the photoinitiators in inks can be adjusted to react at these wavelengths, the curing lacks the reaction to the broad range of UV output. With newer, high-output LED

“LED lamps themselves are outputting very little heat to the print, allowing for more heat-sensitive substrates to be used with less worry for damage in the process. This is especially true for printers who want to use thin plastics or substrates that have a lower melting point.� Traditional curing of UV Inks Photoinitiators used in UV digital and screen inks typically react to specific wavelengths within the 200- to 400-nm range. UV light reacts or triggers photoinitiators to crosslink with the resins to form chains of molecules we recognize as the cured ink film. Although photoinitiators are most reactive at specific wavelengths, the overall curing reaction or polymerization is achieved by the broad absorption range. Traditional UV lamps used in screen printing and less and less in digital are medium-pressure mercury, which supply

lamps combined with tailored inks, an effective package for printers has shown to be viable in the printing market. Adoption of LED curing technology is most readily seen in areas that a small curing area is needed and/or the presence of heat in the curing process produces problems. The processing/printing and general function of the digital and screen inks perform on par with inks formulated for mercury vapor curing. The UV reaction within ink between curing systems get to the same result when the inks are fully cured.

10 | Industrial + Specialt y Printing

Intensit y and dose For UV inks to cure properly, they must exposed to the correct wavelengths and a sufficient amount of energy must be directed to the surface of the printed substrate. The amount of energy is called the dose and is measured in millijoules (mJ/ sq cm). The dose of energy a print receives is affected by the conveyor/belt speed and the number of times that it is exposed to the UV lamps. The intensity of energy emitted by curing lamps is known as irradiance and is measured in watts (or milliwatts/sq cm). Irradiance is directly related to electrical power, lamp condition, and the geometry of the reflector that directs and focuses the lamp output. Irradiance does not vary with exposure time. The depth of cure achieved in the ink film is directly influenced by the irradiance level of the lamp. Delivering higher, more intense energy at the surface of the ink allows for more penetration through the ink deposit resulting in a more through cure. Mercury and LED lamps need to have sufficient dose and intensity in UV output to fully cure the ink. Benefits of LED The market is starting to see practical lamps and inks coming into the market. The benefits to converting to LED curing are many, including: reducing/eliminating heat to the substrate and ink, reducing operating cost, reducing emissions, reducing the use of mercury-containing bulbs, and increased safety. The most significant savings is the reduction of energy usage. Most of the energy consumed by the printing press is to feed the mercury bulbs

Relative Intensity


Figure 1 UV LED lamps output at a narrow spectral output, mostly commonly at 365 and 395 nm with a ±20 nm at the peak wavelength, as shown here in green and purple.

Wavelength (nm)

and cooling systems. High temperatures created by the IR energy that mercury lamps emit are an unfortunate byproduct of this type of curing process. Preventing the heat from building up and damaging the lamp housing and sensitive substrates is a critical concern in UV curing. Systems for heat management in modern curing units pull from water-based cooling systems or extensive air systems. LED lamps pull significantly less energy—depending on the method for evaluation, reduced energy from 40-60% or more. In addition, the system is instant on/ off; there is no need to keep the lamps running when not in use, which contributes to reduced energy and overall lamp life. There is little to no heat in the use of LED lamps, so the only cooling system required is an air fan or commercially available, water-based cooling system. Mercury lamps also emit ozone that needs to be removed from the printing area. Ozone is generated when an electric discharge passes through air or when oxygen is exposed to high-intensity UV energy. Ventilation pulls air from the printing area and expels it from the building. The cost of displacing large amounts of air contributes to higher energy consumption and higher overhead costs. LED does not emit ozone, so ventilation is not a requirement. In addition, venting ozone typically entails environmental-emissions tracking and control. Eliminating these emissions could reclassify a printer environmentally, further reducing cost. The other big impact of LED is the reduction of heat to the substrate and ink. LED does have heat associated with its

function in the sense that lamps can function more efficiently when cooled. With higher wattage systems, water cooling is used. But, the LED lamps themselves are outputting very little heat to the print, allowing for more heat-sensitive substrates to be used with less worry for damage in the process. This is especially true for printers who want to use thin plastics or substrates that have a lower melting point. Additional benefits to converting to LED lamps include: safer worker conditions, consistent UV output over the life of the lamp, less substrate distortion and elimination of potential fires related to heat, and less space required due to the elimination of ventilation and reduction in electrical supply. Impact of LED today A major limiting factor with LED is the cost of the lamp, which can be four to eight times higher than traditional mercury vapor. LED lamps/systems maintain or gain in price with longer widths of curing. Mercury-vapor lamps/systems increase in price relatively, very little with in wider and wider systems. The implementation of LED with shorter widths has the most short-term impact on the market. Digital curing requires a short span of curing, making it ideal to build in LED. Mercuryvapor curing for digital equipment has a very limited existence. Implementation of LED into screen printing has been more limited due to the need to curing spans of 40 in. or more. At this point, the cost of LED limits its implementation to markets like container printing, which has a limited cure span,

or nameplate and related applications that require high tolerances and use substrates that are very heat sensitive. There are lowcost systems that can be used for curing inks, but they tend to be slower in processing speed. But technology is advancing! The wider use of LED curing for digital and screen printing drives lamp costs down, opening up the potential use to more and more printers. There is also a growing number of LED manufacturers coming into the market, resulting in better technology and easier access. In a very short period of time, medium- and wide-format LED systems will be more available to an expanding segment in the print market. The increased output of the LED lamps, paired with newer ink formulation technologies, has shown the number of ink systems available in on the rise. Not only are there more manufacturers supplying products, but the range of applications that can implement LED also is expanding to include: graphics, nameplates, plastic and glass containers, industrial glass, and more. Screen and digital are ready for the conversion to LED.

Laura Maybaum


Laura Maybaum is a screen-ink market manager for Nazdar. Maybaum is a member of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology. She holds a bachelor’s degree in print manufacturing and a master’s degree in corporate training from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She has been active in the screen-printing market for more than 19 years, including positions at Nazdar, KIWO, and Sefar America. may/june 2012 | 11

printed electronics

Printed Electronics for Interactive Greeting Cards Julia Goldstein, Ph.D.

What do you think of greeting cards that light up or play music? Results of an informal, nonscientific survey suggest that many people like them and enjoy receiving them but aren’t necessarily willing to pay a premium price to purchase these cards. Cards with sound are priced two to three times higher than traditional cards without sound, which may be too high a cost to convince consumers to make a switch. Technology that can lower the cost of production may be a solution that makes a difference. Cards with traditional electronics The greeting-card industry, facing slower growth as a result of the economic recession and competition from e-cards, is creating products with more intricate designs or novel techniques to attract customers. One option is interactive cards that incorporate light or sound. Some designs allow the consumer to record sound clips, while others are pre-recorded by the manufacturer. Record times range from 10 seconds to more than a minute. The speakers are commonly 40 mm in diameter and several millimeters thick. A number of companies in China manufacture these modules, which sell for $0.50 to $2 in bulk to wholesale customers. This adds significant cost to greeting-card manufacturers, who must pass the cost on to the consumer. Greeting cards with sound only are fairly straightforward to assemble. Most sound modules come ready to record a song or message and then peel and stick onto cards, lining up a notch in the pull tab with the fold of the card. The pull tab acts like a switch to activate the sound when the card is opened and stop playback when the card is closed. Other module designs include a

push-button switch that needs to be aligned to the graphics on the front of the card. One panel of the tri-fold greeting card is folded over and glued down to hide the electronics. This design is common in cards sold directly to consumers, but another market is corporate customers. Sound Expression Greetings is one company that designs greeting cards with sound modules that companies can use as customized marketing tools. CEO Kelli Fusaro reports that there is a lot of interest in these products. Cards that incorporate both sound and lights are a bit more complicated than those with only sound, because LEDs need to be positioned to match up with the graphic design of the card and programmed to turn on and off in time with the music. This requires a custom module design for each card design. Figure 1 shows an example of the inside of a Hallmark greeting card containing five lights. The printed circuit board at the bottom connects to a speaker, push button switch and the individual LEDs. The logic for the device is contained in a single sound recording chip (protected with black glob top encapsulation) that processes analog sound input and stores it in nonvolatile memory. The silicon chip includes amplifiers, filters, and clock control. Three 1.5-volt watch batteries are required to power this device. One concern some people have with musical or light-up greeting cards is disposal. Wording on the back of the greeting card dissected for Figure 1 says, in capital letters, “This card is made with paper from sustainably managed forests,” which is probably supposed to make the consumer feel good about buying the card. In small letters below is the warning, “Please recycle or dis-

12 | Industrial + Specialt y Printing

pose of the battery in this card appropriately.” In the 20 U.S. states with e-waste laws, cards containing batteries and circuit boards may technically be considered e-waste, but consumers are probably not bringing them to e-waste facilities along with their old computers and televisions. They are also not likely taking the cards apart and removing the circuit boards before tossing them in the trash or recycling bin. Is this a major problem? Maybe or maybe not, but there is an opportunity for manufacturers to create specialty cards that are completely recyclable. Opportunity for printed electronics Printing electronic cards is one approach that may be able to improve the look and feel of interactive greeting cards, reduce their cost, and make them more environmentally friendly. Ideally, these cards

Figure 1 Greeting card with flashing lights produced using printed electronics. Photo courtesy of PragmatIC Printing.

would be no thicker than a standard, noninteractive greeting card, be priced similarly to standard cards, not require additional postage to mail, and be entirely recyclable. For this concept to reach the marketplace, however, there are a few barriers that need to be overcome in the areas of technology and infrastructure. One company that has developed a greeting card using printed electronics is PragmatIC Printing. Last year they collaborated with UK-based Tigerprint Ltd., a subsidiary of Hallmark, to produce a prototype card with flashing lights (Figure 2). Instead of a silicon chip, the card uses printed transistor logic to control the lights, which are small, surface-mount LEDs. Printed metal lines connect the logic circuit to the LEDs. The circuit is also connected to three printed batteries to provide power. According to Scott White, CEO of Pragmatic Printing, three batteries may be more than necessary to power this device, since a demo card still worked after at least six months of frequent use. It would be reasonable to assume that a greeting card would need to last up to a year on the shelf and a week of frequent use once purchased, so it may be possible to reduce the cost by using fewer batteries. Several companies produce printed batteries, which are suitable for a wide variety of applications including interactive greeting cards. The battery chemistry typically comprises a zinc anode, manganese dioxide cathode, and zinc chloride electrolyte. The anode and cathode terminals are printed with polymer-based conductive inks. Because they contain no toxic heavy metals, printed batteries are completely disposable. The in-plane dimensions of these batteries are usually between 4 and 6 cm, and they can be custom designed in specific shapes to fit the application. They are flexible and less than 1 mm thick. Barriers to implementation Do solutions exist today to produce an interactive card using only printed electronics that incorporate both light and sound? Using the design shown in Figure 1 as an example, the answer is “not yet.” Flexible, printed, organic LEDs (OLEDs) exist in concept but are not yet commonly available in the market. OLEDs would allow for reduced cost and more creativity regarding the size and design of lighted areas on a greeting card. While OLED manufactur-

Figure 2 Conventional electronics for greeting card with sound and light. ers are currently focused on large volume applications such as mobile phones, greeting cards do present a niche opportunity. The key difficulty in created a printed card with sound is the speaker. While thin, flexible speakers now exist for applications such as wall-mounting, the electronics required to power them makes them unsuitable for use in greeting cards. In theory, it would be possible to make a printed connection to standard greeting-card speakers, but because they are relatively thick and bulky, it would probably not be worth the effort. There might not be much point in incorporating printed electronics into a card if not all components can be made paper-thin. There are also limits to the capabilities of printed batteries for greeting cards with both lights and sound. One 0.5-W speaker, the size commonly used in greeting cards today, consumes a lot more power than several low-current LEDs at 4mW each. Xiachang Zhang, Ph.D., founder and CTO of printed battery manufacturer Enfucell, states that printed batteries would not be able to provide sufficient power for the design of Figure 1, even if the other components could be printed. Today’s commercially available printed batteries are best suited to low-power applications where the average power consumption is below 1.0 mW. Since printed electronics is relatively new, the infrastructure has not yet developed to the degree needed to produce the high volumes necessary to lower costs. Currently available solutions are probably about the same cost as conventional electronics, but White believes that as volumes ramp up there is potential for production cost to drop by 50 to 80 %. PragmatIC Printing recently announced plans for pilot production of printed logic for both greeting cards and other applications, which is a step in the direction of higher volume capability.

None of the greeting-card companies contacted for this article was interested in providing information. A company like Sound Expression may be a more likely collaborator. Their primary customers are businesses, and each design is made to order for the customer. Some businesses may find it attractive to be able to promote environmentally-friendly marketing materials produced locally, especially if the cost is comparable to conventional electronics. For European customers, sourcing for all components of an interactive card using printed electronics could be done within the EU. The silicon chips and other components used in tradition interactive cards come from Asia, which can mean supply chain delays for a greetingcard designer in Europe or the U.S. Conclusions Given the state of technology today, printed electronics appear to be a promising solution for light-up greeting cards but don’t yet have the capabilities to produce cards with sound. White describes interactive greeting cards as “a very attractive early application” for printed electronics with a “proven market opportunity and clear requirements regarding functionality, form factor and price.” It remains to be seen whether this market opportunity will result in volume production of light-up cards with designs and prices that will appeal to consumers.

Julia Goldstein, Ph.D. Julia Goldstein, Ph.D., is a freelance writer with a background in materials science. She provides commercial writing for companies in the semiconductor and printed-electronics industries. may/june 2012 | 13

feature story

Medical Printed Electronics at Katecho Inc. This article provides an inside look at a specialty manufacturer in the medical print-production field. Ray Greenwood Katecho


atecho is an OEM manufacturer for the medical device and patient care products industry. We are not a brand but rather the manufacturer of critical components behind many well known brands within the medical industry. We produce an ever-expanding range of products centered on several key competencies: electronic and electrochemical engineering; product and process design; printing, converting, and value-added processes; and raw material design and manufacturing (Figure 1). The most descriptive definition is that Katecho is a precision raw materials converter in the medical device industry. Everything we do is specialized in some form to fit that industry segment. A simple looking product like a pre-medicated bandage or a defibrillator electrode can have as many as eight individual layers within the packaging alone, not to mention the layers that produce the product itself. The web attributes (stretch, temperature expansion, static potential, slip, and cutting characteristics) of each layer are different and require separate tension and run speeds. All of these tolerances stack up fast and must be held within a collective maximum of 0.030 in. or less. This means that the individual tolerances of each material and each additive process of the conversion must be held to 1/10th or less of the total tolerance stack. For example, printing tolerances for graphic items must be held to a maximum tolerance of 0.003 in. Printing tolerances for deposition must be held to about 15 Îźm (0.59 mil) for the thicker, less sensitive materials and within 5 Îźm or less (0.2 mil) for some of the more critical conductive inks. Because of the critical raw material tolerances, there are quite a few materials that Katecho manufactures in-house for use as sub-assemblies of precision substrates. One of our specialties is the in-house production of hydrogels 14 | Industrial + Specialt y Printing

from design through formulation, batching and inline casting into web roll form. The range of process types involved under one roof brings Katecho firmly into the realm of vertical integration: product design, raw-material manufacturing, processing, testing, certification, packaging, warehousing, and distribution. Because each electrode design may require unique test networks, connectors, location nests, extra tooling for additive features, and heat sealing fixtures, these production lines are created from scratch, by in-house engineering and machine services as needed. Although printed and imaged material of some type touch every product produced at Katecho, here is a snapshot of the other integral processes: product design and realization, engineering, and raw materials testing; ink and hydrogel chemistry labs; roll-to-roll screen printing for material deposition with a modular Kammann K-61 (Figure 2); flexography for packaging, product graphic, and material deposition; Delta converting systems; highspeed inkjet and toner-based marking systems for serial marking and packaging solutions; standalone die-cutting and digital plotting and cutting; robotic handling and application lines for liquids and gels; and testing laboratories for long term aging and in-field performance of both incoming raw materials and finished products Because of the speed and volume of roll-to-roll printing and deposition with inline converting, in-situ sampling, vision systems and statistical process control are all active tools of the process.

EQUIPMENT SELECTION From the description of the critical nature of our products, every piece of equipment we choose must have a wide range of capability. Large single-usage tools are usually dedicated to one customer or one product for high-volume runs. Equipment can be divided into two large categories—process fi xturing (automatic and semiautomatic equipment attached to, or built into assembly lines on a flexible or permanent basis) and process-specific modules (print, cutting, converting, testing). The converting and printing segments are prime examples of the need for the most versatility because they have the highest equipment and infrastructure costs. The converter line must have almost infinite speed control from inches to more than 60 feet per minute for all powered spindles, nip-rollers, die-cut/kiss-cut stations, waste material take-up and idle roller positions with interchangeability between almost any of them. No two products process exactly alike. Other necessary features are vision systems for product count, in-situ quality inspection, defective product removal, static elimination, vacuum slug and waste removal, laser cutting and kiss-cutting options, inline riveting, punching, snap, grommet and eyelet installation, pick-and-place product assembly, and a modular layout that allows reconfiguration from a simple package laminator to a full raw material to packaged product production line at a speed that rivals a transformer toy (Figure 3).

Figure 1 (Top) A view of the machine room and assembly floor at Katecho Inc. Figure 2 (Bottom) The Kammann K-61 in action The initial tooling cost and production capacity value are such that when a client’s individual product process time exceeds specific converting line availability hours, the cost per unit is usually recalculated to reflect the customer buying or leasing their own product specific converter module rather than for it to dominate a more costly full flexibility line designed to serve many clients. The printing module is much the same. Other than product marking and package prototyping, which use roll-to-roll toner and inkjet-based solutions and certain mass packaging materials that are contracted through commercial offset affiliates, screen printing and flexography are the primary tools of our trade. Versatility, accuracy, and speed are key factors in tool selection. The types of inks used range from solvent and UV graphic inks for packaging solutions to the more complex silver, silver chloride, dielectric, and encapsulation inks. While none of these MAY/JUNE 2012 | 15

ink systems may seem extraordinary to the technical printing audience, usage and custom blending make for a complex and difficult delivery process. In the world of deposition printing, we are neither a thick-film printer nor a thin-film printer; we are both. For custom roll-to-roll thin film (1-2 Οm is typical) deposition of silver and other conductive inks where the film must be continuous with no repeat lines we use a Telstar flexographic press with custom, in-house designed and built, onpress viscosity-control systems. Our needs in screen printing led us to a modular solution that facilitates the high-speed imaging we require while minimizing the distortion that stems from printing inks with fairly poor shear characteristics—for example, high-solids-content metallics and blends of ink that may act like a solid at one setting and shear to a water-thin consistency in a millisecond. Additionally, we must prevent porosity and a phenomenon known as mud-cracking from top curing in thick-film conductive inks. Water-cooled UV curing and a combination IR/forced-air-knife chamber enable us to do so. We use some proprietary blends of conductive materials and binders to create inks that can work with delicate substrates, narrow resistance specs and within medical device manufacturing constraints. These are what set them apart (rheologically speaking) from more common conductive inks and coatings. The specific screen, emulsion and press setting recipes can defy conventional screen printing logic and ink physics. Requirements Katecho is an ISO 13485:2003 certified facility. Under this certification we manufacture certain raw materials, design, produce, warehouse, and distribute products that range from internal and external medical sensing electrodes, defibrillation and EKG electrodes, diagnostic devices for infant hearing, and wound-care products. Our workplace industrial hygiene is variable depending 16 | Industrial + Specialt y Printing

Figure 3 (above left) The Delta converting lines Figure 4 (above right) Defibrillators showing the layers in an electrode Figure 5 (left) finished component with wire harness crimps into a stamped hole

upon the process needed. The entire facility is climate controlled, and we maintain a constant regimen of vacuuming of all surfaces, including ceiling and light fixtures, with an extensive house vacuum system. Clean work spaces can run the gamut from class 100,000 (ISO 8) to classes 10,000 (ISO 7) and 1,000 (ISO 6), if necessary, for specific clients. While Katecho is not required to be a completely sterile plant or cleanroom facility, specific areas are. Particulate counts are also monitored to comply with 21 CFR-11 and for compliance as a supplier to clients who might have even more stringent regulations for a final product within the medical industry of which our product may only be a sub-component. Designs are developed by an experienced engineering staff that’s divided into several distinct groups: engineering design, process design, testing and quality assurance, and compliance. Product example A common product manufactured at Katecho (in hundreds of design variations for many customers) is a defibrillator electrode. To the end-user, this is a seemingly simple product. It has a flexible substrate with a conductive silver layer, a conductive hydrogel on top with an interface connection that sticks to the body, a wire connector, a peel-away gel liner, a foam backing with printed placement instructions, and an outer package or pouch. Although many defibrillator electrodes are not sterile, some that are specified for operating theater use can be. The reality of such a seemingly simple design is that the number of production sub-layers that comprise the substrates is more than meets the eye. To run a web-based conversion process

on any material requires that if it is not stable, you will probably need to add a backing liner, a liner to both sides, or a scrim. Here’s an example of a combined material and pre-conversion operations punch list for the simple electrode described: Outer package/pouch materials 1. Top layer is flexo printed, C-1s outer laminate 2. 1 mil acrylic adhesive 3. Inner polyethylene vapor barrier 4. Repeat for bottom layer 5. Rewind for production if necessary Medical foam-support layer 1. Unprinted, 0.06-in. foam rolls are printed by flexo with one

or more colors of instructions and warnings 2. Rewind 3. 1 mil acrylic adhesive laminate for some designs 4. Sacrificial polyester liner for foam with adhesive pre-applied Electrode base plate 1. 3.5 mil unsupported vinyl (carbon coated both sides) 2. Bottom side is flexo printed with 2-4 μm of silver 3. Top side is printed with either flexo or screen printing with

2-25 μm of silver 4. 3-5 mil polyester liner with low-tack adhesive is laminated

to bottom side of vinyl (this is as much for protection of the silver as it is for structural stability in the web) 5. Additional screen-printing patterns for top side using silver chloride or other design specific conductive inks Hydrogel 1. Release liner is custom imprinted in house via flexo or

screen printing 2. Application specific hydrogel mixtures are continuously

extruded or cast at design specific thickness, into web rolls on a silicone release liner 3. Hydrogel web rolls may be rewound to put unprinted sacrificial liner out 4. In some cases, an extra top liner is applied and material is packaged for stocking and hygiene Wire harness 5. Custom designed and crimped wire pigtail 6. R ivet or snap application (during conversion or later, offline,

printable adhesive and an amazing level of self-cohesion. As they shear, they stick to everything in the screen. A fine balance of shear-stress and hydraulic force must be maintained with exacting open area and emulsion thickness. We have conductive-ink blends that may print well with 6 μm of emulsion and fail at 5 or 7 μm. We have stencil thickness ranging from 3-30 μm. Single-point measurements taken with digital/electromechanical comparators are the most common thickness tool used at screen making facilities. They are the most reliable and repeatable. However, these gauges also measure in tolerances of ±0.1 mil (2.54 μm) with the average reading straddling the center of this range. This means that for our usage, we have a worst-case spread of 5 μm and at best 2.5 μm. The best inductive electronic thickness gauges on the market have a tolerance of 0.3-0.5 μm but have handheld probes and target plates that are so sensitive to heat, vibration, Rz, and moisture that getting a repeatable reading is difficult without considerable experience and tuning to the gauge and target. Other than the in-situ manufacturing checks that each stage of imaging, deposition, or construction go through (thickness, porosity, resistance, adhesion factors etc.) one of the most important qualification is the battery of tests that reference ANSI/AAMI DF80. This is the standard for external defibrillators. The ISO 10993-1-through 16 are virtually identical except for minor variations. The IEC documents are similar as well. This wide ranging set of documents concerns design and function of the defibrillator unit itself as well as the performance of the electrode during active testing. This standard is in widespread use on a voluntary basis. The only mandatory standard for an external defibrillator is the performance standard for Electrode Lead Wires and Patient Cables 21 CFR 898. The end product The product in Figures 4 and 5 is a defibrillator electrode pad that has been separated to show the individual layers. You can see from the detail photograph of the components that make the layers that this is not so simple, especially when it comes to converting these layers into a finished product in one operation (component shot). This brings us back in a circular fashion to why a converting line is such a complex and infinitely flexible machine.

depending on product and quantities) Depending on the electrode type, it may be packaged directly inline during conversion or in the case of many defibrillator electrodes, the packaging is produced as a sub-component to be applied to the finished electrode by semi-automated labor lines along with rivets or snaps for the pigtail, optional 100% batch testing in-situ and thermal pouch sealing. Problems with conductive inks Medical-electrode printing has the added problems of unique blends of conductive materials, like silver and silver chloride, that result in rheology that is overly sensitive to moisture content and temperature, as well riding the fine line between a highly shearable liquid and a non-shearable paste with tack levels similar to a

The author would like to recognize the assistance of: Lorne Scharnberg (Katecho CEO), Mark Scharnberg (VP of operations); Drew Woodworth (director of manufacturing), Joel Anderson (director of process design); engineering and process design engineering groups.

Ray Greenwood

Katecho Inc.

Ray Greenwood is the process-design manager at Katecho Inc. He comes from a production and consulting background primarily in printed graphics, industrial applications, printed electronics, solar, medical, and more. may/june 2012 | 17


Inkjet Printing of Conductor Lines with Embedded Resistors Printed electronics has made remarkable progress in recent years with respect to the integration of passive and active components. Werner Jillek, Ph.D. Georg-Simon-Ohm University of Applied Sciences


nkjet printing has become a mature technology in recent years for many office applications. Starting with 80-dpi resolution in the 1980s at a speed of one page per minute, state-of-the-art office inkjet printers today provide several thousands dpi and print more than 30 pages per minute. The power of inkjet technology can be seen in digitally printed photos with superb quality that hardly can be distinguished from chemically processed pictures. Most inks nowadays contain pigments resulting in a much better durability compared to the previously used ionic inks. Such pigments are nano-particles, preferably smaller than 50 nm, and it is a logical step to replace decorative ink with one using electrically functional nano-particles. Indeed, there is an increasing number of

suppliers of inks with metal nano-particles like silver or copper or carbon nanotubes (CNTs). By using inkjet technology, patterning for various microelectronic applications can be performed, e.g. the metallization of solar cells with silver nano-particles or the completely additive manufacturing of producing printed circuit boards (PCBs). The standard technology for producing PCBs is subtractive. Starting from copper-laminated substrates like FR 4, in a number of steps metals (copper, nickel, tin, gold) are deposited by means of electroless and electro-plating, and finally all copper outside the desired layout is etched off. Depending on the specific subtractive technology variant, 20-40 individual process steps are required. These steps


can be reduced to two or three when the pattern is inkjet printed. Moreover, inkjet technology allows for the integration of passive and basic active components. And it is environmentally friendly because there is no waste at all during the manufacturing process. FUNDAMENTALS Inks for the inkjet printing of conductive lines are aqueous or organic dispersions with metal nano-particles in a size of < 50 nm. Such small particles exhibit a nano effect, which was published first by Buffat et al. in 1976 regarding gold. With decreasing particle size below approximately 50 nm, the melting point drops drastically. Most of the atoms of a nano-particle are located at the surface where they can be removed

0° (ideal wetting) and 180°C (no wetting at all). For soldering, a wetting angle of < 15° is desired whereas for inkjet printing the wetting angle should be approx. 70-80°. Very important for printing accurate structures is a constant wetting angle on the whole substrate surface otherwise necking or widening of conductive lines will occur. The wetting angle can be adjusted by the ink or more easily by a pretreatment of the surface with liquids which either increase or decrease the angle. For aqueous inks, pre-treatments with oil will increase, and with base will decrease the wetting angle. The pre-treatment liquids also can be deposited locally by inkjet printing which can enhance the printing of fine line structures. PRINTING SILVER AND CARBON-NANOTUBE INKS Various substrates are suited for electrical patterning by inkjet printing of silver: polymers—flexible polyimide, rigid polyamide, rigid phenolic paper (FR 2); rigid epoxyglass (FR 4)—copier and photo paper, ceramic, glass, and even wood. We achieved

good adhesion on all of these materials by using Epson office printers with two types of silver ink. The coarser ink is an aqueous dispersion with an average particle size of approximately 30 nm (ink B); whereas the second silver ink (ink A) contains finer particles (5-10 nm) in an organic dispersion. Sintering time and temperature are strongly correlated with the particle size, so ink A starts sintering at 150°C, ink B at 180°C. However, after sufficient sintering conditions, with both silver prints, a very similar conductivity is achieved with test patterns on a high TG polyamide (Figure 2). The print of one layer of silver ink results in a line thickness of approx. 500700 nm; with three or more repetitions a sheet resistance of less than 1 Ω can be achieved. Important parameters for the required minimum number of print repetitions are the surface roughness of the substrate and the line width of the pattern. With four print repetitions, the wider lines (0.4 mm, 1 mm) on the polyamide test substrate all show conductivity, whereas some of the 0.2-mm lines don’t. By inkjet printing carbon nanotubes

Melting Point ∆T 500- 800 °C

Figure 1 Principle of the nano-effect: melting point as a function of nano-particle size


Nano Particle


10 nm

Particle Size

2.5 Sheet Resistance (Ohm)

with less energy compared to bulk atoms in larger particles (Figure 1). The decrease in melting and sintering temperatures of nano-particles by several hundred degrees Celsius is essential for the deposition and sintering of metals like copper or silver on polymer substrates. Metal nano-particles can be generated by liquid or vapor processing but have to be clad with an organic coating during this process, or immediately after they are created before the dispersion is composed. The coating prevents agglomeration of the nano-particles, which would occur instantly in the dispersion due to their very high specific surface. This also avoids or minimizes sedimentation of the metal particles of lower density in the liquid. The organic coating is not conductive and has to be removed during or after inkjet printing. In addition, individual particles have to be interconnected by solid state diffusion (sintering) to build a compact structure. For this task, several methods are under investigation: convection in an oven, plasma, microwave, induction, light radiation, and electric current. In principal, all of these methods are applicable for silver inks but the sintering of none-noble copper requires a very fast process such as high energy light radiation to avoid oxidation of the particles. An alternative might very fast heating by creating eddy currents in the nano-particles when moving a coil in short distance over the conductor lines. The frequency of the induced electrical field can be up to the microwave range. Inkjet printing is a very complex technology with many influencing factors. The droplet generating in the printhead can be done either by heat pulses or by piezoelectric methods. For complex inks, piezoelectric printheads are preferred, as there is no risk of ink decomposition by the boiling liquid. The nozzle diameter in the range of 20 µm or smaller determines the droplet size. To avoid satellite droplets and misalignment by external air flow, the printhead moves in a distance of less than 2 mm over the substrate. When the droplets touch the substrate surface, wetting becomes an issue. Wetting of surfaces by liquids is characterized by the wetting angle which is the angle between the droplet and the surface. The wetting angle can be between

12 Prints

33 Prints


12 Prints

12 Prints


12 Prints

12 Prints

1 .5




.5 .6 .7 Min. width of line (mm)




Figure 2 Resistance of silver lines on polyamide inkjet printed with two different inks MAY/JUNE 2012 | 19

Figure 3 Inkjet-printed and assembled FM radio

overlapping previously printed silver lines, resistors can be integrated easily in the electronic circuit similar to the way resistors on thick film hybrid circuits are designed. The sheet resistance can be varied by the CNT concentration in the dispersion, the density of the color in the graphics or office program, and the print repetitions. At a low CNT concentration, approximately ten print repetitions are required to achieve a sheet resistance of 10-100 kΩ. Inkjet-printed CNTs just have to be dried but don’t need any sintering. They are stable even after several hours of storage at 200°C. Component assembly Printed electronics has made remarkable progress in recent years with respect to the integration of passive and active components. However, more complex components like memories of higher capacity, microcontrollers etc. cannot be printed today and won’t be printable in the next

five to ten years. So, on printed structures discrete components have to be assembled. In standard PCB technology mostly components are interconnected to the PCB by wave and/or reflow soldering. If soldering is applied to inkjet printed lines, the risk of leaching is very high, i.e. the thin silver lines are likely to be dissipate in the molten solder. This effect can be avoided by using conductive glue instead of solder. Conductive glue is composed of a polymer matrix which ensures the strength of the connection and metal (mostly silver) particles that conduct the current. Due to the composition, electrically isolating with metal particles, at a given volume, the resistance of a glued interconnection is always higher than a soldered one. Despite this disadvantage and other issues like very low storage temperatures, < -30°C, and unspecific wetting, conductive glue is the preferred method for mounting components on inkjet printed structures.

20 | Industrial + Specialt y Printing

Properties of inkjet-printed structures The initial adhesion of silver or CNT nano-particles deposited by inkjet printing is good on many substrate surfaces, it and remain so after thermal cycling. However, due to the very thin layer of 1-5 µm, the particles are sensitive to abrasion. A polymer cover layer applied as a conformal coating after mounting discrete components or before (comparable to solder resist) can protect the structures from disruption by unintended contacts. Such protection layers might be inkjet printed or sprayed. The behavior regarding resistance is different for silver and CNT structures at temperature changes. The resistance of conductive silver lines increases with rising temperature—the coefficient is positive and comparable with bulk silver. CNTs exhibit a negative temperature coefficient— the value of CNT resistors decreases with increased temperature. For many applications, conductive lines have to carry a certain current without being heated up over a specified temperature. The unit of the specific current load is A/mm2, for the standard PCB substrates epoxy-glass (FR 4) with 18 µm of copper lamination it is 135 A/mm2 if a temperature increase of maximum 20 K is accepted. Inkjet-printed silver lines show a similar specific current load but it has to be pointed out that, due to the low thickness, the absolute current is limited and might not exceed a few Amperes even at line widths of several millimetres. FM radio as a demonstrator In 2008, at the University of Applied Sciences in Nuremberg/Germany, one of the first inkjet- printed FM radios was built. The layout was originally designed for electroless and electroplating and taken without modification for demonstrating functional inkjet technology. Conductive lines on the polyimide foil were inkjet printed five times on both sides of the substrate, with feed thru connections also printed in previously drilled holes. The components were attached by isotropic silver filled conductive glue (Figure 3). This demonstrator is more challenging than frequently seen printed LED devices, as the LEDs need an input resistor of some hundred Ohms, which is provided by the

printed lines with weak conductivity. In contrast, the radio requires a line resistance for most connections in the range of 3 Ω or smaller. The FM radio also will be taken as a demonstrator for embedded passive components, i.e. the resistors and smaller capacitors will be replaced by inkjet-printed components. FUTURE OF FUNCTIONAL INKJET PRINTING In 2004, the Japanese company Epson presented a small, completely inkjet printed, multilayer PCB. Twenty conductive layers were printed in a thickness of 200 µm and line width of 50 µm with silver ink. Despite this impressive demonstrator and the evident advantages of functional inkjet printing, this technology is not yet used in industry on a wider scale. There are several obstacles and problems. Inks containing silver particles are still very expensive at approximately $1000 U.S. per 100 ml. The reason is not only the price of the precious metal, but also the

complex manufacturing method and the low demand from market with a limited number of suppliers and a lack of competition. Though functional inkjet printers are available from manufactures in Asia, the U.S., and Europe, the focus so far is on lab-scale machines dedicated for research. The attachment of components to inkjet-printed structures by conductive gluing is a limitation with respect to costs and handling and should be replaced by reflow soldering or sintering techniques. Finally, and most important, the reliability of inkjet-printed structures for microelectronic devices has to be verified in extensive tests of accelerated aging, including slow and fast thermal cycling and storage under specified humidity conditions. Today, in electronics manufacturing, functional inkjet printing is just used for niche applications like metallization of solar cells. An emerging market for inkjet printed PCBs can be the manufacturing of prototypes. It should be possible to inkjet print

six to eight layers right at the desk of an electronic designer within three to four hours. After attachment of the components the function of the layout can be immediately verified, instantly changed if necessary and printed again. This could save several days, precious time in product development. Contact the author for a complete list of references.

Werner Jillek, Ph.D.

Georg-Simon-Ohm University of Applied Sciences Werner Jillek, Ph.D., is a professor at GeorgSimon-Ohm University of Applied Sciences, Nuremberg, Germany. Jillek studied materials science and earned his degree at the University of Erlangen, Germany. After working ten years in an international telecommunication company, he was nominated as a professor at the GeorgSimon-Ohm University of Applied Sciences in Nuremberg, Germany, where he is heading the electronic packaging lab. Prof. Jillek is member of IMAPS and OE-A.

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Changing How Electronics Are Made Gregory L. Whiting, Ph.D.

PARC Electronic Materials and Devices Laboratory


raditional semiconductor device manufacturing is carried out through selectively removing material using photolithography. In photolithography, a geometric pattern transfers from a master to a substrate through the use of a light-sensitive chemical, called photoresist. This process is then cycled repeatedly to create complex structures. Extremely high resolution can be obtained (tens of nanometers), which translates into ever increasing performance. Furthermore, the reliability and predictability of the process enables the use of powerful design tools, which significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to develop new products. The ever cheaper and increasingly complex electronic devices that surround us are a testament to the success of this processing method. However, while these methods have been very successful, novel manufacturing platforms could enable an even wider application space to be addressed, which

would be complimentary and disruptive to conventional semiconductor fabrication. Recent developments have enabled the fabrication of electronic devices using additive printing techniques rather than subtractive photolithography. As a manufacturing method, printing brings many benefits including processing over large areas at high speed or over curved surfaces. Using an additive method, which places the material only where it is required, greatly reduces the number of steps needed compared with a subtractive method, where the material is deposited everywhere and then etched back into the required pattern. Printing also readily allows digital methods to be used (such as inkjet), so that new layouts can be created directly from the design, enabling rapid prototyping and facile customization. Furthermore, printing should enable manufacturing sites to be set up at a fraction of the cost of conventional semiconductor fabrication lines, allowing smaller, more diverse organizations to be


involved in the manufacture of electronic components. PRINTING ELECTRONIC DEVICES Using a broad definition of printing and some ingenuity, effectively any pure material or composition can be deposited onto a surface in a pattern using one of the many printing techniques available. However, while examples can be shown for printtype processing from solid1,2 and vapor3 state, the printed electronics field has focused primarily on materials which can be printed from a solution using standard techniques such as inkjet4 or gravure.5 These materials typically fall into one of two classes—they are either solutions of soluble compounds or suspensions of particles, and the development of soluble organic conductors and semiconductors as well as metal nanoparticles are the principal enabling technologies for printed electronics. These materials can typically be processed at relatively low-temperature

may/june 2012 | 23

(less than 150°C), enabling the use of low-cost plastic substrates, thus allowing for roll-to-roll type processing as well as mechanical flexibility as a feature of the completed device. Printing solutions onto a surface is a dynamic process that can be complex. In addition to the properties of the printer itself, the substrate’s surface energy; solubility and roughness; as well as the solutions’ surface tension, vapor pressure, and solute chemistry all play important roles in controlling the resulting printed feature’s shape, position, and structure. To print electronic devices reliably, these factors must be carefully considered. A typical example of this describes an inkjet printed field-effect transistor (FET) based on the organic semiconductor TIPS-pentacene7. To achieve good quality printed features, the surface energy of the underlying substrate must be carefully controlled. If the surface energy is too high, the drop will spread out, leading to a large feature size and low resolution. If the surface energy is too low, the drops will dewet, and break up. Here a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) and a polymer film are used to modify the substrate and dielectric surfaces respectively to improve the quality of the printed conductive silver source, drain, and gate contacts. Since the semiconductor in FETs must span a gap between two printed conductive features, it will experience a region of surface energy contrast, which can cause the solution to de-wet selectively onto the region with higher surface energy, thereby altering the position of the material and potentially breaking connectivity across the source-drain gap. To avoid this problem, the silver contacts were functionalized with a solution processed strong electron acceptor (F4TCNQ), which presents a surface energy similar to that of the SAM-modified substrate. Not only does this ensure continuity of the semiconductor between the source and drain, but also improves charge injection and extraction between the semiconductor and the contacts. This improves the device performance as illustrated by the transistor’s transfer characteristics, significantly increasing the field-effect mobility (μ).6,8 While this example illustrates the importance of controlling the properties of the

substrate, equally important is control over the properties of the solution to influence film formation, for example to suppress the coffee-ring effect.9 The top equation (Young’s relation) relates the surface tensions between the three phases, liquid/vapor (ϒlv), solid/ vapor (ϒsv) and solid/liquid (ϒsl) and the contact angle that the drop makes on the surface (θ). The diagram of a fieldeffect transistor indicates the location of significant contact angles for solution processing substrate surface contact angle (θSUB), source/drain surface-contact angle (θSD) and dielectric surface-contact angle θDI). The table of contact angles for the indicates surfaces before and after modification. Two different types of printed silver are used, nanoparticle based (Ag-NP) and a soluble silver neodecanoate metal precursor ink (Ag-neo). Device t ypes A driving application for printed electronics has been active-matrix backplanes, particularly for reflective displays4 Fabrication of these devices using printing techniques is desirable as it is a potential route to large-area, flexible displays. Each pixel of active-matrix backplane used to drive a reflective display (such as an e-ink display) typically contains a transistor and a capacitor. When the transistor is switched on, the capacitor is charged, switching that region of the display between black and white. Other applications of printed FETs have also been shown, including integrated circuits such as complementary inverters,10 and ring oscillators11 as well as memory devices.12 In addition to field-effect transistors, many different types of electronic devices can be made using solution processed materials and additive printing techniques. Examples include light-emitting diodes,13 solar cells,14,15 sensors,16,17 and batteries.18 Using printing these individual devices can then be readily integrated with other printed devices to create more complex systems. For example, printed sensors can be integrated with electronics and memory to record environmental conditions. If mobility is required, the system could be powered from an integrated printed battery. This type of approach is analogous to the way that discrete elements

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are combined on a circuit board to create electronic devices. However, rather than using pre-formed elements which were created through a separate process, all of the components can potentially be created and connected directly using the printer and a limited number of inks. The performance of these low-temperature processed, solution printed devices is often lower than that of devices produced using conventional techniques for a number of reasons. Principally this is due to the types of materials used. Soluble organic semiconductors (both polymers and small molecules) are generally disordered and have weak intermolecular interactions that lead to thin film, field-effect mobilities lower than that of crystalline or polycrystalline silicon, but which can be similar to that of amorphous silicon (μ ≈ 1 cm2 V-1 s-1). Furthermore, the resolution of printing techniques is such that the smallest feature size and spacing are on the order of tens of micrometers, considerably larger than is achievable with photolithographic processes. As such, printed electronic devices are currently suitable in application areas where large area, flexible processing is beneficial and high-performance is not required. However, as the performance of printed electronic devices is improved through the use of higher resolution printing techniques,19,20 novel print processes,21 higher mobility organic semiconductors,22 and inorganic semiconductors which can be processed from solution at lower temperatures,23 a larger application set will be addressed, further broadening the scope of applications that can be addressed by printed electronics.

Gregory L. Whiting, Ph.D. PARC Electronic Materials and Devices Laboratory

Gregory L Whiting, Ph.D., is a member of the Electronic Materials and Devices Laboratory at PARC. He is interested in electronic devices that can be processed from solution and novel applications, fabrication, and patterning methods for these devices. His current research focuses on the use of printing methods (including inkjet, gravure, screen, and stencil printing) as a fabrication method for devices such as complementary integrated circuits, sensors, and batteries.

REFERENCES 1. M. A. Baklar, F. Koch, A. Kumar, E. B. Domingo, M. Campoy-Quiles, K. Feldman, L. Yu, P. Wobkenberg, J. Ball, R. M. Wilson, I. McCulloch, T. Kreouzis, M. Heeny, T. Anthopoulos, P. Smith, and N. Stingelin, Adv. Mater. 2010, 22, 3942. 2. S. Kim, J. Wu, A. Carlson, S. H. Jin, A. Kovalsky, P. Glass, Z. Liu, N. Ahmed, S. L. Elgan, W. Chen, P. M. Ferreira, M. Sitti, Y. Hunag, and J. A. Rogers, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2010, 107, 17095. 3. M. Shtein, P. Peumans, J. B. Benzinger, and S. R. Forrest, Adv. Mater. 2004, 16, 1615. 4. A. C. Arias, J. H. Daniel, B. S. Krusor, S. Ready, V. Sholin, and R. A. Street, J. Soc. Inf. Display 2007, 15, 485. 5. M. M. Voigt, A. Guite, D-Y. Chung, R. U. A. Khan, A. J. Campbell, D. D. C. Bradley, F. Meng, H. H. G. Steinke, S. Tierney, I. McCulloch, H. Penxten, L. Lutsen, O. Douheret, J. Manca, U. Brokmann, K. Sönnichsen, D. Hülsenberg, W. Bock, C. Barron, N. Blanckaert, S. Springer, J. Grupp, and A. Mosley, Adv. Func. Mater. 2010, 20, 239. 6. G. L. Whiting, and A. C. Arias, Appl. Phys. Lett. 2009, 95, 253302. 7. J. E. Anthony, D. L. Eaton, and S. R. Parkin, Org. Lett. 2002, 4, 15. 8. J. H. Burroughes, C. E. Murphy, G. L. Whiting, and J. J. M. Halls, US Patent Application 2011024728(A1). 9] D. Kim, S. Jeong, B. K. Park, and J. Moon, Appl. Phys. Lett. 2006, 29, 264101. 10. T. Ng, S. Sambandan, R. A. Lujan, A. C. Arias, C. Newman, H. Yan, and A. Fachetti, Appl. Phys. Lett. 2009, 94, 233307. 11. A. C. Huebler, F. Doetz, H. Kempa, H. E. Katz, M. Bartzsch, N. Brandt, I. Hennig, U. Fuegmann, S. Valdyanathan, J. Granstrom, S. Lui, A. Sydorenko, T. Zillger, G. Schmidt, K. Prelssler, E. Reichmanis, P. Eckerle, F. Richter, T. Fischer, and U. Hahn, Org. Electron. 2007, 8, 480. 12. T. Ng, B. Russo, and A. C. Arias, J. Appl. Phys. 2009, 109, 094504. 13. E. I. Haskal, H. J. Bolink, M. Büchel, P. C. Duineveld, B. Jacobs, M. M. de Kok, E. A. Meulenkamp, E. H. J. Schreurs, S. I. E. Vulto, P. van de Weijer, and S. H. P. M. de Winter, J. i 2003, 11, 155. 14. C. N. Hoth, P. Schilinsky, S. A. Choulis, and C. J. Brabec, Nano Lett. 2008, 8, 2806. 15. F. C. Krebs, J. Fyenbo, and M. Jørgensen, J. Mater. Chem. 2010, 20, 8994.

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16. L. L. Lavery, G. L. Whiting, and A. C. Arias, Org. Electron. 2011, 12, 682. 17. J. Daniel, T. Ng, S. Garner, A. C. Arias, J. Coleman, J. Liu, and R. Jackson, IEEE Sensors, 2010, 2259. 18. A. M. Gaikwad, G. L. Whiting, D. A. Steingart, and A. C. Arias, Adv. Mater. 2011, 23, 3251. 19. K. Murata, IEEE Polytronic, 2007, 293. 20. Y-Y. Noh, N. Zhao, M. Caironi, and H. Sirringhaus, Nat. Nanotechnol. 2007, 2, 784. 21. H. Minemawari, T. Yamada, H. Matsui, J. Tsutsumi, S. Haas, R. Chiba, R. Kumai, and T. Hasegawa, Nature 2011, 475, 364. 22. R. Hamilton, J. Smith, S. Ogler, M. Heeney, J. E. Anthony, I. McCulloch, J. Veres, D. D. C. Bradley, and T. D. Anthopoulos, Adv. Mater. 2009, 21, 1166. 23. K. K. Banger, Y. Yamashita, K. Mori, R. L. Peterson, T. Leedham, J. Rickard, and H. Sirringhaus, Nat. Mater. 2011, 10, 45.

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UV SPECIAL EFFECTS FOR PACKAGING Special effects can make printed graphics stand out and get noticed. Mike Young

Imagetek Consulting Int’l

Photo courtesy RH Solutions LLC.


Figure 1 Foil-like finish gives a rich look to packaging materials. All photos courtesy R.H. Solutions LLC, Milford, OH.


ntrepreneurial companies are beginning to recognize a lucrative market niche that has increased in size and is achieved by screen printing: special effects. Value-added finishing enhancements in commercial graphic prints have been around for a number of years, though limited in features and intricate to process. Now a new level of UV coating technology powers the development of special effects. Print buyers are becoming more demanding; wanting more and better for less. They are also clamoring to provide excitement for their own markets/customers. Buyers may be willing to spend premiums for something that clearly sets their prints apart. These enhancements must be more than stunning yet affordable. Screen printing can provide some spectacular visualenhancing results. The type of special effects referred to in this article are those created by a single pass or multiple layers of specially formulated UV-curable clear coating (varnish), together with additives as necessary. The process provides many different effects. Further results can be acquired by combining layers as well as by applying

Photo courtesy RH Solutions LLC.

the process to unprinted coated/uncoated stocks; thereby creating an inexpensive assortment of exclusive-looking substrate types, such as foil-likeness in selective areas (Figure 1). The special-effect UV ink can be coated onto any previously printed material to provide a visually enhanced effect, whether the job was originally offset, flexo, digital, or screen. These arresting effects can produce deep high-gloss, texture, abrasive-feel, wrinkle, coral, icy snow, genuine-looking silver/gold, bubble, glitter, selective foil stamping, and a range of fineline micro-embossing and 3D holographic designs. Special effects target Value-added features provide subtle but distinctive characteristics to a print such as a boost in appearance to an advertisement, poster, display, item, or application. The aim is to draw attention by a subtle but unspoken message, be remembered for a long time, and entice viewers into provoking the intended action. Take five small similar-sized posters displayed together in a bookstore or travel agency, for instance. Other than the book cover graphics or vacation destination sceneries, chances are none will standout unless it had something visually compelling to attract interest more than the others (Figure 2). People want to see, touch, and feel special effects. While gaining more business is the obvious reason to take on such work, the underlying motive is to improve the bottom-line. The marketplace today is competitively entrenched and more jobs are undertaken at ridiculously low margins, a practice unheard of just a few short years ago. To reverse this dilemma, print buyers will pay whatever it takes to make their prints/products stand out. Special effects may be the largest or only money-making part of the whole job, regardless of which printing process was originally used. The markets for special effects are endless, including but not limited to: general merchandise, posters, P-O-P/PO-S displays, children’s books/games/toys, reference books, book/magazine covers, digitally-printed-books, greeting cards, calendars, door-opening business cards, catalogs/folders (Figure 3), advertisements, luxury labeling, packaging (Figures 4 and 5), annual reports, leaflets, diaries,

Photo courtesy RH Solutions LLC.

Figure 2 (Above) The starfish has been highlighted with special-effect UV ink, thereby simulating the creature’s realistic rough skin-like texture in print. Figure 3 (Left) Inexpensive, eye-catching, custom-made covers and catalog folders give product information or data a professional edge. Figure 4 (Below left) Holiday candy boxes attract buyers without graphically showing the contents. Figure 5 (Below right) Micro-embossed foil-like gift boxes give the package a touch of elegance.

Photo courtesy RH Solutions LLC.

audio-visual products, cosmetic, jewelry boxes, Braille (replaced inexpensively with micro-embossing), garment tags, stationery, gift wraps, and bags. Value-added special effects combined with offset, digital, flexo, or classical screen graphic, packaging/label applications is a lucrative niche that offers marketers, designers and print buyers enhanced unique-looking possibilities to make the initial difference in sales.

Photo courtesy RH Solutions LLC.

Shifting business core to multi-processes Screen-printed special effects provoke a significant response from market-hungry promoters looking for new ideas that add value. Many offset/digital companies who are now embracing the screening process felt it was the missing link to expand their business. Industry’s inclination is beginning to shift from a single-process to a multi-process may/june 2012 | 27

Photo courtesy RH Solutions LLC.

Photo courtesy RH Solutions LLC.

Figure 6 (Top) A leaf image screenprinted with drops of special-effect ink accentuates water droplets and simulate the real thing under reflective light. Figure 7 (Above) A crab with outer shell/ legs screen printed abrasive-style ink. Figure 8 (Right, top) A relief tactile effect, which is ideal for Braille printing, can be used very creatively on up-market packaging.

Photo courtesy RH Solutions LLC.

Figure 9 (Right, bottom) A range of 3D holographic effects can be over printed on most any print to create dynamic and pulsating effects.

Photo courtesy RH Solutions LLC.

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approach as print buyers try to differentiate themselves from their rivals. It has been estimated that 35% offset printers desire some form of special effect that they are unable to provide in-house. Consumable suppliers generally agree that offset/digital printers are supplementing their in-house capabilities with screen printing at the annual rate of 5%, which is expected to grow some 15% in the immediate future. Even though the practice of special effects is still much in its infancy, one leading training school enrolls approximately 60 participants monthly just to learn how to produce special effects. At the recent Printed Electronic Membrane Switch Symposium in San Jose, CA, interest was shown to features that could substantially enhance industrial applications. The specialty coatings can potentially replace foil stamping, doming, silvering, and micro-embossing processes. While many 3D labels are attention-grabbing, taking the feature to another dimension, 4D dome labels reflecting imagined space, hapticfriendly motion, and depth can expand interest levels. What makes these ink coatings different? Some clear, UV inks are formulated for special effects and available in a range of distinct finishes. These coatings are created to yield the exact same finishing characteristics regardless of printing equipment or curing equipment used and without measuring or special mixing except for customization with additives (Figures 6 and 7). Creative printing, either singly or in multiple layers, can yield extraordinary effects: • Deep, high gloss for spot lamination or to provide a wet, glossy look selectively to an existing matte surface for highlighting. •D eep matte for matte lamination, to give a sense of rich depth or to reverse an existing glossy surface selectively for accentuating another part of the print. •L ight, glistening transparency for a different effect than high gloss, such as water droplets or sparkling effects with glitter flakes (Figure 8). •3 D holographic or micro-embossing effects (Figure 9).

• Leather-like finish with realistic surface consistency (Figure 2). • Softening effects that de-emphasize backgrounds with suede-like feel. • T hick-film deposits to small round objects such as berries, pebbles, etc. • Distinct bubble effect to accentuate dimple-like surfaces such as the center of flowers. • Various degrees of abrasive roughness. • A sparkle sheen with deep luster. What does it take? Any company with UV screen-printing capabilities can create special effects. For long production runs, usually those printed by offset are best screen printed with a cylinder line rather than semi-automatics that are more suitable for short-run lots. In today’s economic climate, maybe there has never been a better time or opportunity to reignite one’s business passion, by strategically embracing an extraordinary market niche that can infuse much needed financial benefits into an existing printing operation. Screen printing, the oldest of all printing processes, exists largely today due to its ability to print the widest range of substrates with the broadest selection of ink coatings for color vibrancy and opacity that delivers the greatest visual impact of any printing process. The author would like to thank Ron Hayden of RH Solutions for his assistance and expertise in this area. The UV special effects inks mentioned in this article are exclusively available through RH Solutions. For more information, go to

Mike Young

Imagetek Consulting Int’l Mike Young, is the principal at Imagetek Consulting International, North Haven, CT. He has been a specialist in high-definition graphic and industrial screen printing for more than 40 years. He is an SGIA Fellow, vice-chairman of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology, and a recipient of the prestigious Swormstedt Award for technical writing. He is also a frequent contributing writer to trade publications, SGIA Golden Imaging Award print judge, legal expert witness and a popular speaker at industry events. He is a frequent traveler to India conducting many seminars and has consulted a number of high-profile screen printing companies. Imagetek Consulting International trains, troubleshoots, and enhances high-end and industrial screen printing. may/june 2012 | 29


Market movements and association updates

Thin Film Electronics Wins Award for Printed Memory Oslo, Norway-based Thin Film Electronics ASA announced that it has won the IDTechEx Product Development Award for Thinfilm Addressable Memory, said to be the world’s first working prototype of a printed, non-volatile memory device addressed with complementary organic circuits, the equivalent of CMOS circuitry. The IDTechEx Product Development Award is given to companies that have launched new printed electronics products and are in the process of bringing them to market. A panel of independent judges assessed Thinfilm’s technology on the basis of technical development, potential market, and benefits over other company’s products. Thinfilm Addressable Memory, the result of an extensive collaboration involving PARC, a Xerox company; Solvay, and Polyera, shows a significant step toward the Internet of Things (IoT), a technology trend identified by Gartner as one of the Top 10 Strategic Trends of the decade. The vision of IoT is a world where everything is connected via smart tags. These smart tags require the commercial availability of devices that have rewritable memory, are low-cost, and can be combined with other printed electronic components such as temperature sensors, displays, power sources, and antennas. “The demonstration of Thinfilm Addressable Memory, in collaboration with PARC, was, we believe, a significant step in the delivery of smart tags for the Internet of Things and for new innovative solutions for everything from toys and games to health care,” said Davor Sutija, Thinfilm CEO. Thinfilm also recently announced a number of partners to create an ecosystem around the Addressable Memory product. The vendors include PST Sensors to jointly develop printed temperature tags; Acreo, which develops printed displays for a variety of applications; and Imprint Energy, which is developing an innovative printed battery technology. These partnerships will enable a new class of temperature sensors to offer quantitative information on a per item basis.


Development of the Thinfilm Addressable Memory was partially funded by an industrial development grant from Innovation Norway. Participants in the development program include Thinfilm and the company’s partners—PARC, Inktec, Polyera and Solvay. Earlier this year, the FlexTech Consortium also recognized the commercial significance of the Thinfilm Addressable Memory, presenting the FlexTech Innovation Award to both Thinfilm and PARC.

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IPC Conference on Flexible Circuit Technology

Flexible circuit technology is used in all market sectors, including military, telecommunications, medical and consumer products. To explore the potential of this technology, IPC will hold the IPC Flexible Circuits Conference, June 12-14, 2012, in Irvine, CA. The two-and-a-half day event will provide participants with practical information on a range of technical topics, along with the business outlook for this sector. On June 12, a basic-level workshop on rigid/flex circuits in the making will be led by Dale Smith, DAS Flex Circuit Consultant LLC. The afternoon’s advanced-level workshop led by Mike Carano, OMG Electronic Chemicals LLC, will focus on process considerations for flexible circuits, from metallization through final finishes. The day-and-a-half conference portion of the event begins June 13 with the keynote, “The Future of Flexible Circuits Technology,” presented by Happy Holden, Gentex Corporation. Al Wasserzug, Vulcan Flex Circuit Corporation, will discuss the challenges of technical marketing, flex versus PCBs. Glenn Oliver and Sidney Cox, Ph.D., DuPont will provide information on the design, fabrication and electrical analysis of high speed flex. Other conference presentations include an “ask the flexperts” session on common flex technical challenges, a new approach to manufacturing rigid flex circuits, reduction of voiding in flexible circuits containing microvias and why aspect ratio does not matter anymore. With printed electronics coming of age, a special conference focus on June 14 will spotlight this technology’s potential. Dan Gamota, Printovate Technologies Inc., will provide an overview on the basics, limitations and what is achievable in this fast-growing area. In addition, Marc Chason, Marc Chason & Associates Inc., will discuss advances in flexible printed lighting technology for highgrowth markets. Mark Finstad, Flexible Circuit Technologies Inc., will highlight changes to the newly updated design standard, IPC-2223 and Sharon Starr, IPC, will share economic and market trends for the flexible circuits sector. For more information, visit

INX Sacramento Achieves Platinum Sustainability Status

Sacramento, CA-based INX International Ink Co. recently became the second company in Sacramento County to earn platinum certification as a Sacramento Sustainable Business (SSB). The 9,000 square-foot facility, which provides ink blending, technical support services and warehouse space to customers throughout northern California, passed a rigorous audit conducted by the Sacramento County Business Environmental Resource Center (BERC). The platinum certification is the highest level in the SSB program and it followed four years after INX attained gold-level status. SSB promotes businesses that voluntarily prevent pollution and conserve resources. BERC was established in 1993 as a one-stop, non-regulatory permit assistance center to help Sacramento County businesses comply with federal, state, and local environment regulations.

DuPont PV and Yingli Collaborate on Advanced Tech

DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions and Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited are collaborating to advance technology for higher efficiency solar cells, new module manufacturing processes, and innovative component designs. Through technical collaboration, the two companies aim to accelerate the development and adoption of solar energy to address one of the word’s biggest challenges: sustainable energy generation. “Yingli started its solar business in 1998 and has expanded production exponentially from 3 megawatts then, to 1.7 gigawatts today,” said Liansheng Miao, chairman and chief executive officer, Yingli Green Energy. “Technology innovation especially through collaboration with leading materials suppliers such as DuPont enables us to deliver high-quality, cost-competitive products, and is at the core of our ability to continually grow and lead in this industry, which will further underscore our commitment to providing the whole world with affordable green solar energy.” Working together, Yingli Solar and DuPont have made significant advancements in raising solar cell efficiency, extending module lifetime and targeting lower overall photovoltaic system costs. Yingli is integrating DuPont metallization technology with an advanced cell diffusion process for greater efficiency increases, based on the Solamet PV17x technology platform. Yingli and DuPont are collaborating to customize metallization materials for Yingli’s Panda series modules, made with an advanced (N-type) cell design for superior efficiency of over 19% based on current lab testing. The companies are also collaborating in fluoride films such as DuPont Tedlar polyvinyl fluoride films adopted in Yingli’s new Panda modules, ensuring high performance power output for more than 25 years.

Danaher Corp. to Acquire X-Rite

Danaher Corporation announced today that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with X-Rite, Incorporated pursuant to which Danaher will acquire X-Rite by making a cash tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of common stock of X-Rite at a purchase price of $5.55 per share, for an enterprise value of approximately $625 million, including debt assumed and net of cash acquired. X-Rite is a global provider of color-measurement technology. The company, which includes design industry color provider Pantone, develops, manufactures, markets, and supports innovative color solutions through measurement systems, software, color standards, and services. Upon closing, X-Rite will be part of Danaher’s Product Identification group. “We are excited about the opportunity to acquire two premier brands in X-Rite and Pantone,” says William K. Daniel II, executive VP of Danaher. “Color measurement is an attractive market adjacency to our existing Product Identification businesses. X-Rite’s color-measurement technologies complement Esko’s digital packaging design capabilities to provide customers with a full range of solutions to meet their packaging and design needs. Along with Videojet and Esko, we believe X-Rite and Pantone will further Danaher’s leading position in the product-identification industry and present an attractive value creation opportunity.” may/june 2012 | 31

printing methods

Printing on Aluminum Wim Zoomer

Technical Language

To apply an ink onto a metal surface and expect durable results, first you must make the surface area receptive. An appropriate pre-treatment of the substrate should be carefully conducted. The kind of pre-treatment depends on the substrate characteristics and print performance requirements. As a metal, aluminum requires a special pre-treatment prior to further surface processing—such as printing and dyeing—to meet end-product requirements. Decorating and finishing aluminum end products may include: front panels for equipment, nameplates and type for machines, exclusive façade plaques or façade lettering, and name badges. Depending on the application, specific products may be processed by mechanical engraving, chemical etching, dyeing, powder coating, printing, punching, milling, forming, and others. Prior to processing the aluminum material, the surface requires an adequate pre-treatment to improve the appearance and enhance the corrosion resistance; to create a touchfriendly surface; and to increase the durability—weather resistance, scratch resistance, and solvent resistance. Anodizing the aluminum surface is an effective technique for preparing the base for the application of adhesives or inks. Colored ink can be applied using full-surface dye techniques or printing and powder coating the image. The anodzed (and successively sealed) aluminum surface must meet both decorative and functional requirements. Anodizing process Anodizing is an electrolytic process that

passivates the aluminum substrate with oxide film. The formed transparent and porous aluminum-oxide film increases the surface hardness, which makes the surface corrosion and scratch resistant as well as weather and solvent resistant. Additionally, the porous surface provides an improved adhesion if it is to be screen printed and/ or dyed. The surface treatment is called anodizing because the treated product forms the anode of the electrical circuit. The anode is connected to the positive terminal of a DC power supply. The cathode is commonly a plate of an appropriate metal and connected to the negative terminal of the power supply. The anode and cathode are placed into the commonly used acidic electrolyte, containing water and water soluble chemicals, such as sulphuric acid. When the electrical circuit is closed, the anodic aluminum starts to produce oxygen. Oxygen on the aluminum surface forms the protective oxide film. The anodizing process continues until the required film thickness (commonly between 5-25 μm) is achieved. The oxide film created by anodizing is substantially thicker than the environmentally formed oxide film on the aluminum surface. Therefore, the anodizing process offers an improved protection and many other advantages. The oxide film adheres perfectly to the substrate, since the film has actually originated from the basic aluminum substrate. The created aluminum-oxide film has a porous structure that allows the surface to adsorb dyes evenly. In a very short time, the aluminium oxide reacts with envi-

32 | Industrial + Specialt y Printing

ronmental moisture to form aluminum hydroxide, which reduces the adsorption power of the anodized surface. The initial adsorption power can be prolonged by anodizing in a special way to create larger diameter pores. However, the performance of the oxide film will decrease. Shelf life A special technology has been developed to impregnate the pores and at the same to protect against external factors. Solvents containing dyes are still able to penetrate this barrier, offering the possibility of dying or printing either photo mechanically, by screen, or by inkjet. Years after anodizing the aluminum substrate, this technology allows a reproduction of every image in vivid colours without harming the quality of the anodized surface. Dyeing To adsorb the dyes properly, the dye molecules must always be smaller than

Figure 1 Playful nameplate

the pores in the oxide film. The dyes can be applied onto the anodized aluminum surface using several different methods. Immersing the product completely into liquid containing water or solvent soluble dyes will intensely dye the product all over. Other methods involve screen printing, inkjet printing, and photo mechanical printing. These methods are applied to dye the substrate, or to apply a text or an image onto the substrate. These techniques use solvent soluble dyes. The dyes penetrate deeply into the pores. Most dyes meet the color fastness requirements. Powder coating Powder coatings are typically applied electrostatically without any solvents and nest cured by heat to allow the material to flow and form a skin. Since the unwanted loss of dye by evaporation is eliminated, the powder coating technique is considered a very efficient method. Any powder that does not adhere is recirculated. An important feature here, is that there are no limits to color selection. Powder coating is a highly consistent method, and powdercoated products can be formed easily. Screen printing Choosing the right solvent and paste for the dyes is very important to achieve the expected result. To allow a smooth incorporation, the dye molecules must be smaller than the pores in the oxide film. Since the pores have an average diameter of 0.075 µm, it is not possible to apply pure white pigments or any combinations with white. The size of these pigments is larger than the pore diameter. Actually, any mesh can be selected for screen printing. Mesh counts may vary from 100-355 threads/in. The ink deposited using a 355-thread/in. mesh is very thin. It is paramount to prevent the screen paste from prematurely drying. Dried paste remains may clog the mesh. An indirect stencil applied on a 305-thread/in. mesh provides excellent print quality and at the same time a sufficient ink or paste deposit. Carefully flooding is highly recommended and, if necessary, combined with double squeegeeing. The stencils must be solvent resistant. Screen printing is a technology may be used to apply the paste containing the dyes at the required location successively. After

Figure 2 (Left) Appealing façade plaque

Figure 3 (Above) Anodized-aluminium gradation (image courtesy of The Dutch Nameplate Factory, The Netherlands)

drying and sealing the paste, residue can be removed from the aluminum product. Drying Drying is an essential factor that determines the eventual color intensity. From the printed screen paste, the dye migrates into the pores of the oxide film. This process ceases when the paste is dry. A faster dry time results in less dye migration to the pores, and therefore causes lighter colors. The color intensity can be controlled by the drying temperature. A rule of thumb is that the substrate should be exposed to wet ink or paste for at least 45 min. Sealing Sealing is the final process step. Since the applied oxide film is porous, the sealing process allows the dye to fixe onto the product by clogging these pores. Sealing is conducted by immersing the product into water of 97°C within 45 min causing a chemical surface modification. Aluminum oxide will be hydrated and turn into aluminum hydroxide. Since the aluminum-hydroxide molecules are larger than the aluminum oxide molecules, the pores become smaller and eventually will be clogged. Therefore, the applied dyes will be protected from possible chemical attacks. The performance of the sealing process does affect the color fastness of the dyes. Sealing does not increase the hardness of the oxide film. After sealing, use appropriate solvents to remove the screen paste excess. Additionally, clean the non-printed areas as well. Appropriate solvents are: isopropanol or 1-methoxy-2-propanol.

Specialists Anodizing aluminum and successively decorating the product concerned is a process that can be conducted only by trained specialists. The end result has attractive decorative characteristics. The touch-friendly and durable surface can be dyed, screen printed, and decorated with other methods, and finally be processed mechanically. Specialists should be able to supply their products in these arrangements: anodized, decorated, and finished aluminum end products such as front panels, nameplates and façade lettering; anodizedaluminum substrate to printers; and a package containing anodized-aluminum substrate and suitable screen or inkjet paste, allowing the printer do finish the job. It’s important to know what to expect when printing on aluminum. When done right, this type of industrial printing can produce spectacular modern results.

wim zoomer

Technical Language Wim Zoomer is owner of Nijmegen, Netherlands-based Technical Language, a consulting and communication business. He has written numerous articles for international screenprinting, art, and glass-processing magazines and is frequently called on to translate technical documents, manuals, books, advertisements, and other materials in English, French, German, Spanish, and Dutch. He is also the author of the book, “Printing Flat Glass,” as well as several case studies that appear online. He holds a degree in chemical engineering. You can visit his Website at may/june 2012 | 33


Printing Technology: 35,000 Years of Evolution and Still Thriving Joe Fjelstad

Verdant Technologies

Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan wrote the line: “He not being busy being born is busy dying.” That line has been quoted many times in the decades since Dylan first recorded it as one of the many anthems against the Vietnam War. The line is a clear reference to the importance of change and the need to embrace it if one is to survive. While Dylan was focused on political change, the concept found clear resonance in the business world, where failure to adapt to change has proven over time to be a prescription for the demise of a business or company. As one of the oldest technologies on earth, the printing industry has been witness to many changes over its history. The hand-printed, illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, while very beautiful, were also very inefficient from a production standpoint. The invention of movable type, credited to Gutenberg, opened the doors to printing as we know it today. Since that time, there’s been a steady stream of innovations that have either augmented or replaced the technologies that preceded them. In addition, the new technologies have often opened the doors of opportunity to new markets especially in the area of the graphic arts. A number of important changes, innovations, and disruptions have occurred over the centuries. One was the introduction of the rotary printing methods that took over from flatbed printing. Rotary printing processes significantly increased printing efficiency and opened the doors to low-cost imaging, especially in the area of newsprint. With the lithography and flexograpy that accompanied them, there was a sig-

nificant improvement in quality and versatility of the printing process. Lithographic processes, now more than 200 years old, continue to play important role in all manner of products, including semiconductor and printed-circuit technologies. The introduction of the photocopier and the personal printer had a profound effect on the printing industry. They have democratized the printing process, allowing the individual to print and copy at home what they had previously needed to do at a printing service. The personal printer, along with a digital camera, has all but gutted traditional photography. Boutique printing and print-on-demand services, in combination with the explosion in tablets and e-book readers, may at some point have a similar effect on the publishing industry. As an example, Encyclopaedia Britannica recently announced that it will no longer produce a printed version of its multi-volume reference books. That said, there are those who espouse the importance of the analog book as one that will endure and will never run out of battery life. What lies ahead? Looking to the future, it is evident that many opportunities are ahead for the printing industry. They can be found in areas that seem to be outside the bounds of normal printing, yet have much in common with historical methods. One area of high interest and one that has been getting much attention in recent years is that of printed electronics. The operative word here is of course printed. The marriage of printing efficiencies with electronics is one that is full of promise and expected to

34 | Industrial + Specialt y Printing

deliver great benefits. While the promises are real, there is need to temper somewhat one’s expectations as to how much benefit printed electronics can deliver in real products. It is not foreseeable at this time, for example, that printed transistors will ever compete with the efficiencies of those produced using semiconductor technologies. On the other hand, with better software and more intelligent design, one may be able to achieve benefits that have not been anticipated. A final area to consider going forward is that of 3-D printing. Advances in materials processes and processing equipment are opening doors. The benefits of 3-D printing are clearly evident relative to the printing of on-demand units of one, which is a Holy Grail of manufacturing. What will be interesting to see is whether or not the technology can be adapted cost-effectively to higher production rates. In summary, printing technology stands as one of humanity’s oldest and most important technologies. It is also one that has proven itself amenable to change and adaptation. For their own survival, it is important that users of printing technology be equally amenable and adaptable to change.

Joseph FjelstAd

Verdant Technologies Joseph Fjelstad is a 34-year veteran of the electronics-interconnection industry and is an international authority, author, columnist, lecturer, and innovator who holds more than 150 issued and pending US patents in the field. He is the founder and president of Verdant Technologies, a firm dedicated to environmentally friendly electronics assembly.


A Paid Advertising service of ISP magazine.

Sakurai presents the most precise cylinder screen press available for industrial and multi-pass overlay printing

• Maestro MS-80SD with optical camera registration

The Servo Driven MS-80SD features an industry first optical camera registration system and monitor designed to improve registration and performance. The Maestro prints on a wide range of substrates such as plastic film for electronic applications, membrane switches, display panels, touch screens, paper, board and foil. The ultra high precision 31-5/8” x 21-3/4” MS-850SD operates at speeds up to 2,000 IPH and accepts stock from .001” to .0031” with precise registration. To learn more and arrange a demo, contact David Rose: 847-490-4900 or

The Xaar 1001 is the leading printhead in use for demanding single-pass industrial applications. Featuring TF Technology™, the Xaar 1001 provides dynamically-variable 6-42pl drop sizes with 360 nozzles/inch and a 70mm print swath. This printhead excels at handling a wide range of fluids, keeping solids in suspension, and running with minimal maintenance. The Xaar Inkjet Development System is a ‘starter kit’ for experimenters and developers. It includes the Hydra ink supply system, XUSB drive electronics for up to 8 printheads, and software to print bitmap images. For more information, visit


May/June 2012





Advance Greig Laminator


MacDermid Autotype


AWT World Trade Inc.


Mimaki USA


Douthitt Corporation




Dynamesh Inc.


OKI Data Americas


Graphic Parts INternational


Sakurai USA





Kammann USA Inc.


Xaar Americas


shop tour 1




5 7 8


Mcloone location La Crosse, WI

other info Mcloone manufactures customized product-identification graphics, from asset tags to P-O-P specialty items, and provides solutions for custom graphics applications. The company’s capabilities include screen printing, laser, and digital imaging technologies. Mcloone also offers doming, forming, metal nameplates, and overlays. For more information, visit


Mcloone’s General Pony Express cylinder press is used for printing multi-color decals and pressuresensitive labels for high-volume orders.

crystal-clear, polyurethane resin is applied to 2 Aeach label. The doming process protects the imprint and gives a three-dimensional look to the graphic.

Matan Spring uses thermal-transfer printing 5 The to increase image durability. Mcloone’s digital equipment includes a Roland 6 inkjet printer, which produces multi-color graphics. the 2009 Wisconsin Partners for Clean 7 Awarded Air Award, Mcloone eliminated lead-based paints,

reduced volatile emissions in the manufacturing laser technology removes color or finish 3 Mcloone’s process, and improved wastewater output. from material to create images. presses raise a pattern of copy above provides added durability and enhances 8 Embossing 4 Lamination the original material surface by using matched the product’s finished look. male and female dies.

36 | Industrial + Specialt y Printing

Flex your UV options Expand your UV industrial printing in new directions with the extra deep 5.9” adjustable flatbed of the UJF-3042HG and the new UV primer ink and flexible ink sets for printing on practically anything. DYE UJF-3042HG SUB INK

Expanded Ink Sets

PR-100 is a NEW UV Primer ink that can be used in

Mimaki’s redesigned, tabletop-sized UJF-3042HG is an affordable and ultra versatile UV LED flatbed printer with a generous print area of 11.8” x 16.5” that now adjusts down to 5.9” deep for printing on an ever expanding choice of substrates and dimensional objects. With the addition of our flexible ink sets and new UV primer for optimal adhesion, your substrate choices are opened up to plastics, metals, glass and much more. Use the UJF-3042HG for one-offs, prototypes, industrial and interior signage, molded switches and panels, packaging, ID badges, and promotional items. You’ll find the application options are more flexible than ever. Focused on solutions.

combination with LF-140 and LF-100 inks. This primer ink is simultaneously under-printed as a spot ink. C M Y K lc lm + W

LF-140 is a UV Flexible ink offering 6-color printing along with white. More flexible than LH-100 ink, making it less likely to crack during post-processing. C M Y K + W

LF-200 is a UV Ultra-Flexible ink that is able to stretch up to 200% without cracking. C M Y K + W + Cl

LH-100 is a UV Hard ink that excels in scratch and chemical resistance and is ideal for media that does not require bending or folding after printing.

Listen. Connect. Deliver. EMAIL INFO ATL








© 2012 Mimaki USA, Inc.

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