Electronics Assembly Knowledge, Vision & Wisdom
Inkjet Printing for Electronic Circuits
Inkjet Printing for Electronic Circuits
This paper explores the promise of what inkjet printing can bring to process simplification, cost reduction and improved capabilities.
Production Floor

Authored By:
Brian Amos
Engineering Manager, Dow Electronic Materials

Thomas Sutter
Emerging Technologies R&D, Dow Electronic Materials


Narration and Analysis:
Jim Hall
Jim Hall, ITM Consulting
A Lean Six-Sigma Master Blackbelt, Jim has a wealth of knowledge in soldering, thermal technology, equipment and process basics. He is a pioneer in the science of reflow.
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Transcript
The authors of this paper investigated the use of inkjet printing as a replacement for the traditional lithographic process for imaging the patterns during circuit board fabrication.

The basic construction and operation of the piezoelectric, drop-on-demand printhead was described.

The following advantages, process parameters, and limitations were reviewed:
  1. Process Simplification and Faster Turnaround
  2. Waste Reduction
  3. Improved Registration
  4. Feature Resolution and "dpi" dots per inch
  5. System Printing Speed: including a theoretical example for a PCB
  6. Ink Compatibility and Design
The authors concluded that Inkjet fabrication equipment capable of producing features suitable for PCB production is becoming commercially available.

Printing times for a suitably configured inkjet system are in the range of traditional lithographic printing and, when coupled with the elimination of photomasks, make fast turnaround production especially attractive.

This paper provides a good introduction to the basics of inkjet printing which is being considered for a variety of tasks in the production of electronic products.
Summary
Manufacturers of electronic devices are always searching for new technologies that can improve processes, extend capabilities and lower costs. These drivers, along with the needs of new markets like Printed and Plastic Electronics, have brought processes like inkjet printing to the forefront. This paper explores the promise of what inkjet printing can bring to process simplification, cost reduction and improved capabilities. It also takes a critical look at the practical issues and concerns of this new technology
Conclusions
Inkjet fabrication equipment industry capable of producing features suitable for PCB production is becoming commercially available. The proper printhead and printing system, coupled with a suitable ink, like those in the LithoJet ink family from Rohm and Haas, can produce etched copper patterns for PCB production and do so with a lower environmental impact. Printing times for a suitably configured inkjet system are in the range of traditional lithographic printing and, when coupled with the elimination of photomasks, make fast turnaround production especially attractive.
Initially Published in the IPC Proceedings
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