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Printed electronics - the future of interactive packaging

Printed electronics - the future of interactive packaging

A considerable amount has been said about the potential of Printed Electronics over the past few years; finally the technology is reaching a point where it can actually start being used in real projects.

Printed Electronics is an all-encompassing term for a method of making electronic components through processes which use some kind of printing or deposition process. The terms Organic Electronics and Plastic Electronics are also used to describe fundamentally the same thing.

The whole point of Printed Electronics is to enable the production of active devices at a fraction of the cost of conventional electronics as well as being much thinner and flexible. A simple example might be to put a flashing light on the packaging of a product in a supermarket:

Using conventional electronics the process would involve designing and making a printed circuit board, usually made of fibre glass and around 1.6mm thick, then we solder components like integrated circuits and light emitting diodes to this circuit board, the components are 1 to 3mm thick, and then we embed this assembly in the packaging of the product – the result is bulky, unattractive and expensive.

Using Printed Electronics we create what we call an Application Specific Printed Integrated Circuit (ASPIC), these ASPICs are created on a flexible plastic substrate (PET or BOPP for example) and can be as thin as 10um. Through a series of printing and deposition processes the components are ‘built’ and the connections between them made, this then forms a complete working solution which is flexible and may be only 100um or so thick.

These ASPIC based solutions can then be integrated into the packaging print line for high speed, low cost production.

At nfs we are working on designs incorporating NFC features with a number of Printed Electronics process development companies, developing the tools and expertise to create ASPICs so that we can take your ideas and turn them into printed reality

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