Additive manufacturing has evolved from its initial use in rapid prototyping to become an essential asset for the production of cutting-edge devices. Today, it plays a significant role in fabricating diverse products, including electronic components.
Nevertheless, as electronic devices continue shrinking in size, precision additive manufacturing has grown more challenging. To harness the advantages of additive manufacturing, the electronics sector requires a printing technology capable of operating at the micro-scale of contemporary circuitry while also adapting to innovative designs.
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The challenges of microscale printing
Many microscale printing solutions fall short in key areas. For example, two of the major nanoscale additive-manufacturing technologies, laser-induced forward transfer (LIFT) and electrohydrodynamic printing (EHD), suffer from deficiencies that make them impractical or inefficient for advanced electronics.
While promising, LIFT struggles with low efficiency. Shockwave formation requires using extremely small transfer gaps, increasing manufacturing difficulty, and poor adhesion limits LIFT’s general usefulness and, specifically, its ability to create robust three-dimensional structures.
EHD avoids some of the handicaps of traditional inkjet printing by drawing the ink out of the nozzle with an electric field rather than ejecting it. However, while EHD can use a wide variety of inks affordably, adding multiple nozzles to increase throughput creates electrical interference issues, which negatively affect print quality. EHD also faces difficulties with non-flat surfaces and mixed-material substrates for similar reasons.
While research seeks to improve LIFT, EHD, inkjets, aerosol jets, and other nanoscale printing technologies, their existing constraints hinder widespread use.
A practical solution for a high-precision printing system for microscale electronics must mitigate the existing technical and economic limitations. It must enable precise printing on a wide variety of substrates, including ones that are flexible or three-dimensional and those that are composed of multiple materials.
This versatility would open up advanced use cases, such as creating electronics in complex shapes and improving the durability of flexible screens. But printing technology must also function at a high throughput rate while maintaining a cost structure that ensures profitable manufacturing. Otherwise, the technology will be relegated to prototyping and other one-off projects.
XTPL addresses all of these issues with Ultra-Precise Dispensing (UPD), a revolutionary printing technology with unmatched precision, capable of creating features smaller than 1 μm. The system’s modular hardware and software can be expanded in functionality as needed.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) powers real-time image processing to aid the highly accurate motion system. Easy integration with other systems and plug-and-play capability simplify incorporating nanoscale printing technology into existing workflows.
UPD enables printing on a variety of substrates using conductive and insulating materials as well as materials with specific functional properties. XTPL’s ultra-precise dispensing technology requires no electric fields and produces no overspray.
Enabling advanced electronics with Ultra-Precise Dispensing
Ultra-precise dispensing (UPD) addresses the shortcomings of other nanoscale printing technologies:
Printing on 3d structures
It can deposit complex three-dimensional geometries and print ultra- (1-10 μm) traces and edge interconnections on three-dimensional and flexible substrates such as:
UPD also offers photonic sintering for temperature-sensitive substrates.
Microbumps and microcavities
Microbumps can be deposited exactly and uniformly, reducing both material waste and the number of assembly steps. Microcavities, high aspect-ratio microvias, and microwells can be filled precisely using a variety of materials, including conductors, dielectrics, photoresistors, and quantum dots, enhancing design freedom and customization.
Advanced display technologies
Next-generation displays, easily crippled by nanoscale manufacturing defects, can be repaired with UPD thanks to broad materials compatibility and the ability to print ultra-high-resolution features (<1 μm) and photonic sintered resistance (<1 Ω μm).
Implementing ultra-precise deposition (UPD) can not only improve the manufacturing yields but also the quality and lifespans of displays while reducing harmful e-waste. MicroLED interconnections can be printed directly on vertical steps without ramps, providing reliable connections for flexible hybrid electronics and integrated-circuit packages. UPD is ready now for the next generation of electronics.
XTPL’s ultra-precise dispensing opens doors for exciting new possibilities in many segments of electronics, including better:
- VR goggles,
- smart watches,
- next-generation automotive displays (OLED, microLED, and micro OLED).
Any application that requires the miniaturization of electronic devices, extreme precision, and highly conductive printed traces can benefit from UPD. UPD’s unique abilities push the boundaries of what is possible, enabling a new era of high-resolution electronic devices.
The versatile nature of UPD allows for efficient integration into various industries, from medical devices demanding intricate sensors to aerospace applications requiring lightweight, high-performance electronics. With UPD, engineers can explore innovative designs, achieving unprecedented levels of miniaturization and functionality. The technology’s adaptability makes it a game-changer in fields like wearable technology, IoT devices, and flexible electronics. As the demand for compact yet powerful electronic solutions continues to grow, UPD stands as a crucial enabler, opening doors to advancements in electronic design and manufacturing.