At JOANNEUM RESEARCH we run Austria’s largest research group for functional printing.
For a product or application we are the one-stop-shop for the development of scalable printing processes. We cover the complete value chain ranging from ink development, surface modification, printing strategy, post processing, to characterisation.
Printing on low temperature substrates is one of our key specialities.
Our interdisciplinary team of highly skilled experts works to customer requirements often utilising a combination of different printing technologies.
Digital printing offers many advantages like enabling new design possibilities that can reduce system cost, size or weight as well as bringing new functions to (flexible and formable) 2D/3D surfaces allowing monolithic integration into components or products. Printing is contactless and well suited for rapid prototyping.
We work on functionalities like
- conductivity (self-reducing metallic inks, ionic inks, stretchable inks),
- isolation (dielectric),
- sensing (pH, gas, humidity, proximity, piezo),
- adhesives or biological,
- fluorescent features.
For our customers we do
- proof of concepts,
- prototyping and demonstrator development,
- upscaling of production,
- sourcing of material and equipment suppliers as well as
- contract manufacturers and the transfer of manufacturing processes.
Small production runs are available as a service. Together with industrial partners we do research in nationally or internationally funded projects.
Available printing technologies at JOANNEUM RESEARCH include
- screen printing,
- inkjet printing,
- aerosoljet printing,
- microarray spotting as well as
- solenoid valve printing.
We print on various substrates like
- metal layers,
- silicon wafers,
- 3D substrates or
- other customer specific materials.
These substrates often require various surface modifications like
- corona treatment,
- UV or
- nano imprint lithography.
For enabling the required functionality post processing of the printed patterns is required including thermal curing, Laser curing or UV curing.
Applications and use cases can be found in
- Packaging and assembly
- High density interconnects, flex circuits, Direct die Attach, embedded/Integrated passives, replacing wire bonds
- Electronic components
- Resistors, capacitors, inductors, micro-antennae (RFID), micro-batteries
- Electronic devices
- 3D MID, 3D smart structures, displays
- Fuel cells, solar cells
- Sensors a Humidity a Touch
- Printed circuitry, standard electronic components, 3D printed cover
- Smart textiles
- Security features
- fluorescent dies, high resolution patterns
Inkjet Printing is a contactless and digital (maskless) industrial scalable printing technology. Thereby single droplets of low viscosity inks are ejected from nozzles located in the printing head. Each droplet ejection is triggered by a voltage
driven piezo-element, literally squeezing out each droplet of the corresponding nozzle. Industrial inkjet printing heads
contain up to 2048 nozzles, allowing for a high degree of parallelization and throughput. At the MATERIALS institute
three state-of-the-art inkjet printers are available, a Dimatix DMP 2800 and two PIXDRO LP50 (one in the clean room)
systems, allowing for the integration of different industrial printing heads.
Aerosoljet Printing is a contactless direct structuring method featuring high resolution (down to 10μm) with many advantages:
- Low cost: hard-tooling and mask costs are eliminated thereby enabling cost effective manufacturing even in low
- volume production runs
- Printing on both planar and non planar (3D) substrates
- CAD driven, tool-less processes to speed up product development and manufacturing, while allowing greater flexibility in mass customization
- Potential for revolutionary new end-products with improved performance based on novel size, geometries (including 3D Interconnects), materials and material combinations in a high viscosity range
In the field of printed electronics, screen printing is regarded as a standard, industrial process for device fabrication. It offers a high variation in geometry and design and scalability for the resulting layers and allows for high throughput at low costs.
Amongst other applications, at MATERIALS screen printing is done with the help of a semiautomated Thieme LAB 1000 and used a.o. for the PyzoFlex® technology.
In flexography (instrument…), a doctor blade is used to distribute the high viscosity ink onto the anilox role, which subsequently wets the pre-fabricated cliché bearing the pattern to be transferred. Afterwards, and in a role-based-process, the ink is being transferred from the cliché to the substrate. Parameters like anilox volume (which defines the amount of ink to be transferred), printing speed or role-to-role distance affect the printing quality.
Electro-static printing represents a novel deposition technique capable of applying functional inks in a viscosity range and droplet volume currently not available for classical piezo based ink jet technologies. Electro Static Printing is still in development.
A microarray spotter is an automated device that has multiple piezo dispensing capillaries (PDCs) to process extremely small volumes (i.e. from picoliter to microliter) of solutions of various types. With such technology, oligonucleotides, proteins, nanoparticles and fluorescent dyes can be bound to a variety of surfaces (e.g. glass, silicon, silicon dioxide, gold, hydrogel and polymers). This enables simple, costeffective production with high throughput and is particularly suited for producing biochips for diagnostic applications.
From Materials over processes to devices
Depending on the particular printing technology the first step is formulating a printable ink or paste with the desired functionality (e.g., metal nano-particle-based inks for conductive structures). The printing process is thereby optimized for each application: for successful printing process development a deep understanding of the components ink or pastes, substrate and printing strategy as well as the interdependencies (e.g., of wetting and adhesion) is necessary.
Equally essential are post processing steps like drying or thermal or photonic curing of the printed structures (via UV, laser or flash light), in order to transform the applied nano-particles into a conductive structure, for example.
For the fabrication of three-dimensional printed plastic objects, two technologies are available at MATERIALS: In “Fused Filament Fabrication” melted plastic is applied layer by layer using a heated nozzle. As an alternative to this technology, MATERIALS offers an inkjet based 3D printer (Stratasys Objet Pro 30) to apply polymer building blocks and support structures (which are removed afterwards) on complex structures (e.g. moveable objects), in thin layers and subsequently UV cured.