Alfonso del Rey, Technology Transfer Officer at ICMAB, presented some examples of the printed electronics technologies from ICMAB.
On Thursday, May 11, the Cluster MAV (Advanced Materials Cluster) presented the Printed Electronics working group in a one day event with a total of 34 attendees. During the session, which took place at the Espai Catalunya Clústers, the main trends and opportunities related to printed electronics were presented and different success stories from members of the working group oriented to multiple sectors were presented.
The main characteristics of printed electronics are light weight, flexibility, robustness and the fact that materials can be printed on a large area. In addition, the materials obtained are elastic (useful for skin patch applications) and, compared to homologous products made with conventional electronics, this technology manages to reduce the carbon footprint considerably. Likewise, printed electronics is a very transversal technology, applicable to many sectors (mobility, construction, energy, medical, packaging, textile...) and to different substrates (paper, textile, wood...).
The advantages over conventional electronics is that the latter works with rigid substrates and has limitations when incorporating complex geometries. Printed electronics or Functional Printing, on the other hand, when working with flexible substrates, has a wide range of applications within its reach.
Attendees at the Printed Electronics Cluster MAV event
Alfonso del Rey (ICMAB), gave examples of the application of printed electronics at ICMAB in which the NANOPTO group and the eMolMat group are working on.
The NANOPTO group is working on high throughput screening for the optimization of the sample concentration and thickness in organic solar cells. Gradient samples are preapred using the blade coating method, among others. This method is between 10 and 100 times faster than conventional methods.
The eMolMat group is working on organic electronics prepared with the Bar-Assisted Meniscus Shearing Method (BAMS) for X-ray detectors or biosensors.
The Cluster Manager of the Cluster MAV, Ona Bombí, opened the day by welcoming the attendees:
Cristina Casellas, from Eurecat, stated that "printed electronics will never replace 100 % conventional electronics, but depending on which applications, it provides an economical and more sustainable solution that can be easily implemented in different sectors". Two technologies, together with the Internet of Things and 5G will allow the deployment of a new generation of Smart Products".
Eloi Ramon, from IMB-CNM (CSIC), explained that "for many years, printed electronics has been restricted to the research field, but for some time now, the change has been made to industrial application". Ainhoa Cots Segura, from Leitat, presented electrochromic devices based on plasmonic nanocrystals for smart labels and high energy efficiency windows.
Alfonso del Rey (ICMAB), gave examples of the application of printed electronics at ICMAB in which the NANOPTO group and the eMolMat group are working on. Maria Eugenia Rodríguez, from Eurecat, delivered the conference "Printed electronics integrated in plastics, composites and elastomers". Finally, Maziar Ahmadi, from the UPC, talked about technologies for the preparation, characterization and application of printed circuits on polymeric, ceramic and textile substrates.
During the day it was made clear that Europe is strongly committed to promoting this technology for two reasons:
In addition, at European level it is a very well-regarded technology, as it is a greener alternative to conventional electronics and is often referred to as Green Electronics.
Marc Vizern, from Rotimpress, explained that the technique mostly used in industry is screen printing mainly because it allows high printing speeds, high printing volumes and therefore low costs. For prototyping they work with sheet printing, but when they work with larger volumes, they do it in coils. Vizern presented a success case in the field of printed electronics: the "Smart Battery Case - functionalization of materials for electromobility" project promoted by Cluster MAV. Rotimpress has developed a heater made with printed electronics that increases the efficiency of a battery for the nautical sector.
The day ended with an open space for debate and a piscolabis where the attendees discussed the challenges and opportunities behind this technology. Work needs to be continued so that printed electronics can be applied to sectors such as packaging and to become an even more sustainable technology.
Printed electronics play an important role in the sensing of surfaces and objects of the present and future. As new materials appear, the technology will advance.
Printed Electronics Cluster MAV event
Download here the Printed Electronics working group presentation.
Text adapted from "El Clúster MAV presenta el grup de treball d'Electrònica Impresa" (Cluster MAV, 15 May 2023), where you can see some more photos.