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Applications for Fine Line Printing: Metasurface, Touch Switches, Transparent Heater

Author: e2ip Technologies | Contact us []

Flexible and thermoformable printed electronics have become increasingly popular in recent years as they offer a cost-effective and versatile alternative to traditional electronics. The ability to print electronic devices onto a variety of substrates, including plastics, textiles, and even paper, has opened new avenues for innovation in Smart Structural SurfacesTM. In this article, we will discuss the applications and challenges of three types of flexible and thermoformable printed electronics that require fine line printing capabilities: Capacitive Touch Switches, Transparent Printed Heaters, and Metasurfaces.

Printed Electronics SHOW | Europe

Capacitive touch switches, such as CapFlex®, use capacitive sensing to turn any surface into a touch-controlled electronic smart surface. These switches are typically made of a thin, flexible printed circuit layer sandwiched between a backing layer and a top overlay. The compact design eliminates the need for additional mechanical parts, and the surface becomes the screen. With CapFlex®, designers can create customized touch controls on a variety of surfaces, including plastics, glass, and even curved or irregularly shaped surfaces.

Transparent printed heaters use fine line printing process to generate heat, making them more energy efficient by improving the heat diffusion. The design pattern allows the technology to adjust the desired temperature and transparency according to the electrical requirements and the applications. The materials used in this process are all qualified for both indoor and outdoor applications, making them suitable for a wide range of applications including new possibilities for Smart Structural SurfacesTM.

Fine Line printing process is applicable in a lot of different industries and applications. Advanced Screen Printing requires a lot of adjustments to obtain the desired results. Regarding screen printing, two main criteria must be considered:

  • The robustness of the screen: The size of your pattern will dictate the size of your screen. Fine line meshes are expensive and, for some of them, fragile due to the wire diameter required to achieve resolution as small as 20um. Define the exact requirements and work with your supplier to select the best match for your application.

  • The ink: most inks used in PE right now are made of flakes and solvents. The critical point is the size of the particles when it comes to fine line. Nanoparticles or particle free inks with low solvent evaporation or UV curable inks should prioritized.

To overcome these challenges, engineers must continue to develop new materials and design for manufacturing that address these issues. Advances in materials science, ink formulations, and printing technologies can help to improve the robustness of flexible and Thermoformable printed electronics, making them more durable and long-lasting. Additionally, advances in automation can help to reduce the time and cost associated with mass production, making large-format screens more accessible to a wider range of industries.

In conclusion, flexible and thermoformable printed electronics offer a wide range of applications and benefits over traditional electronics. They enable almost any surface to become a touch-controlled electronic smart surface, offer improved safety and energy efficiency, and can help to enhance the propagation of wireless signals. Despite the challenges associated with the adoption of this technology, continued innovation and development can help to overcome these issues, making flexible and thermoformable printed electronics a more viable option for a wide range of industries.


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