Boards/Backplanes

InnovationLab’s PCB production method based on additive manufacturing

4th August 2022
Sheryl Miles

InnovationLab, printed electronics specialists, announces it has achieved a breakthrough in additive manufacturing of printed circuit boards (PCBs), helping meet environmental standards for electronics production while also reducing costs.

Within the research project SmartEEs2, funded by Horizon 2020, InnovationLab and its partner ISRA have developed a novel manufacturing process for copper-based solderable circuits. The circuits are screen printed and are compatible with conventional reflow processes.

Producing printed electronics is an additive process that does not use toxic etchants, and runs at comparatively low temperatures of around +150ºC, thus reducing energy consumption.

Moreover, the substrates used in additive PCB manufacturing are up to 15x thinner, compared to conventional techniques, which reduces material consumption and means the production process has less waste.

InnovationLab has so far produced a physical prototype, which includes all the important blocks of a smart label. It uses a copper ink to ensure high conductivity. Component mounting can be done in a conventional reflow soldering process, which enables manufacturers to switch to the technology without investment in new equipment.

Multilayer layer printing, metal, and dielectric was used to produce the target functionality: a low power temperature sensor and logger, an NFC communication interface via a printed antenna, and a compact battery that is charged from a printed solar cell, making the device completely self-sufficient.

The process can produce both standard and flexible PCBs with up to four layers and can be used in product and process development for hybrid electronics.

SmartEEs2 is a European project, which is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. Its objective is to provide acceleration support to innovative companies for the integration of flexible and wearable electronics technologies, and thus to help European industry’s competitiveness.

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