Würth Elektronik launches HyPerStripes research project

20th November 2023
Sheryl Miles

In many miniaturised electronics applications, conventional cable wiring is both costly and material-intensive, limiting the potential for innovation and product performance.

The HyPerStripes (Hybrid integrated high performance electronic stripes) project aims to develop technologies and production processes for long, smart, and flexible electronic systems as an alternative to conventional cables. The project concentrates on two main areas: medical instruments for minimally invasive procedures, such as catheters and implants, and environmentally friendly LED lighting surfaces.

HyPerStripes project partners will establish a technology platform, incorporating manufacturing techniques for roll-to-roll (R2R) processing and the integration of electronic components onto very long, flexible, and stretchable printed circuit boards. This initiative aims to enhance product performance and open new applications, while reducing manufacturing costs and environmental impact. It also seeks to bolster Europe's position in the production of flexible electronics and contribute significantly to sustainable production and products. HyPerStripes is a European research project, receiving funding from Germany, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

In healthcare, the advent of miniaturisation and flexible electronics has been beneficial. Minimally invasive procedures enable disease investigation and treatment without major surgery. However, devices like smart catheters often depend on traditional wiring connections, which are manually crafted and can represent up to 80% of the product cost. This affects reliability, manufacturing yield, weight, and resource usage. A flexible, thin strip integrating hybrid electronic components could address these interconnection issues, leading to new applications in healthcare, especially in patient monitoring. The strips could alleviate the current shortage of long, stretchable, and robust PCBs and interconnects.

In the realm of LED lighting, long, flexible strips could foster new applications, such as large, flat light surfaces that integrate into building glazing to emulate natural light. A primary objective of HyPerStripes is to transfer this expertise to industrial production through a sustainable technology platform offering printing technologies, lithographically patterned copper wiring systems, and low-temperature assembly steps in a unified consulting and manufacturing platform.

As a prominent PCB manufacturer in Europe, Würth Elektronik will mainly concentrate on flexible and stretchable PCBs using roll-to-roll processing for virtually "endless" electronics with finely miniaturised structures. The project's goal is to develop stretchable circuit carriers over one meter in length for cost-effective products and corresponding manufacturing technologies.

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