The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has acquired the digital prototyping assets of CIT Technology Limited (CIT) and, from today, the technology will be available under the name of Inkjet Flex.
CPI’s Inkjet Flex is a two-stage print and plate process that enables copper to be printed onto PET substrates. The first stage prints a catalytic ink onto the substrate, the second stage immerses the image in an electroless plating solution to deposit copper onto the printed pattern. The technology is ideal for a number of printed electronics and disposable applications that utilise low cost substrates such as printed antennae, sensors, electrodes, flexible pcbs and other components suitable for machine to machine communication devices and smart packaging products.
The Inkjet Flex capability will be available online in quarter two 2016 and will allow clients to use the CPI website to upload their copper based circuit designs and rapidly turn these designs into printed prototypes for initial feasibility and new product development work. Inkjet Flex is capable of producing copper features down to 125 µm on flexible PET film using a continuous roll to roll printing and plating process. Samples will be costed by the metre and can be produced on a range of clear and opaque substrates.
Utilising Inkjet Flex technology, prototypes can be cost effectively created, offering repeatable quality and predictable conductivity, providing the first step on the ladder to scaling for production. There is also the opportunity for developers to use a multi-approach to prototyping by producing a number of variations on a design and evaluating which performs best. In addition, to the low cost nature of the prototyping service, CPI also allows the designer to combine the functions of several circuit boards into one single printed interconnected circuit.
The installation compliments existing capability currently at CPI. CPI’s National Printable Electronics Centre provides open access infrastructure in the form of a pilot manufacturing scale Nilpeter printing press alongside a host of electronics integration and ink formulation capability allowing companies to quickly develop and scale up their new electronics concepts from feasibility studies right through to the volumes needed for market trials.
Commenting on the announcement Steven Bagshaw, Business Development at CPI adds: “We are delighted to have the Inkjet Flex capability and associated know-how now at CPI. This specialist rapid prototyping service enables our clients to buy reliable conductive circuits for proof of concept and developmental work extremely quickly and importantly at low cost. We see the internet of things as a major area in the commercialisation of printable electronics and the availability of Inkjet Flex service provides industry with a proven and popular method to progress their concepts towards commercialisation.
The tools are currently being installed and we look forward to Inkjet Flex being ready for clients in the upcoming months. We will release another announcement once tool commissioning is complete and the service is online.”