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Development of a high-resolution printing process for cost-effective production of ultra-fine line electronic circuitry


Screen printing is currently used in the production of electrical circuitry. For ceramic-based electronic modules electrically conductive lines are printed directly, while etch/solder resist patterns currently are being printed in Printed Circuit Board (PCB) production. Printing is chosen for its large production speed, small number of processing steps and very efficient use of material. The width of the printed lines in industrial production is however limited to about 150 m Line widths down to 50 pm have only been obtained on small planar substrates with use of special stencils. New applications require narrower lines (down to 25 m) on up to 50x60 cm2 substrates, and options for using non-planar substrates. For this reason, complex photolithographic processes have been introduced. They are however slow and are environmentally unfriendly because of the required additional development and drying steps and because of the less efficient use of material. The resulting cost penalty is of order factor 210, which often prohibits their use in e.g. consumer products.

Therefore, a novel offset printing process will be developed that has many benefits:
- printing of very fine line circuitry - miniaturisation of products;
- few processing steps;
- efficient use of material;
- decreased energy need- cost reduction- environmental benefit - environmental benefit - increased market share.

Results of the project will be:
1. Novel, reliable, low cost, printing process for printing conductive and resist patterns in the production of ultra-fine line circuitry (line width down to 25 m and height up to 15 m);
2. Novel conductive inks for the fine-line printing of electrical circuits on ceramic (allowing curing at high temperature) and on PCB substrates (here, curing must be done at <200ÐC);
3. Novel resist inks for fine-line pattern production on PCB's;
4. Prototypes of printing machines for fine-line printing on planar and non-planar substrates.

In the last phase of the project, the Hi-ReCiPri printing process will be demonstrated in pilots of producing electrical circuitry on planar and non-planar substrates. The total direct and indirect economical benefits of the project will amount to at least 340 MEcu/yr after full implementation in the European industry. Spin-offs are expected in the sensor, ceramic white-ware and graphics industries. The Consortium comprises the complete chain: Two large European manufacturers of electronic components and systems, namely Philips - prime proposer and leading manufacturer in the World consumer electronic industry, with specific expertise in printing and in production of electronic modules and PCB's - and Thomson CSF a world class producer of radar/microwave electronics; Gwent Electronic Materials - a major supplier of customised paste/ink to the electronic module industry; Coates Electrographics Europe's largest ink manufacturer for the PCB industry; Malkin - a leading manufacturer of printing equipment for the ceramic industry; Oulu University, Dept. of Electrical Engineering well recognised for their research in hybrid electronic circuits, and pioneer of the new fineline printing technology in Europe. BE97-4607


Nederlandse Philips Bedrijven BV
5600 MD Eindhoven

Participants (6)

Coates Electrographics Ltd
United Kingdom
Norton Hill
BA3 4RT Bath
Gwent Electronic Materials Ltd
United Kingdom
Mamhilad Park
NP4 0HZ Gwent
Malkin Ltd
United Kingdom
Campbell Road
ST4 4ES Stoke-on-trent
Max Simmel GmbH & Co. KG / Korrex-Maschinefabrik
75172 Pforzheim
Avenue Gay-lussac 2
90014 Oulu