Manufacturers of a broad range of applications share a common interest in learning how conductive inks for 3D printers can improve their end products, simplify their manufacturing processes, and lower their costs. Whether they develop RFID antennas, sensors, contacts and traces, ceramic cores or other electronic circuits, there is increasing attention being paid to the features and benefits of specialty inks.
In an online survey of 100+ manufacturers from around the world, Nano Dimension found that flexibility and conductivity levels were among their chief considerations for conductive inks. More specifically, respondents cited the following as critical features and specifications they’d like to see in inks for 3D printing:
- High (or high enough) electrical conductivity/ very low resistance ability to conduct higher currents without failure
- Adhesive capability to replace wire bonding and eliminate soldering
- High cohesion within printed lines/fine line spacing
- Compatibility with IPC standards
- Low temperature sintering
- Ability to print on a variety of substrates
- Cost effectiveness for printing simple, flexible interconnect circuits in-house
These areas are also important to Nano Dimension, which develops specialty inks for its own DragonFly 2020 3D Printer, as well as other advanced ink applications. The ability to control the size, shape and dispersion of the silver nanoparticles allows for very high ink performance optimization in properties such as conductivity, adhesion and flexibility. These attributes are useful in a wide range of applications including RFID and OLED, from the particle level all the way through formulation to the printing process itself. The high conductivity also means less ink is required for the same application requirement, which results in significant cost-savings.
Of the survey respondents who said they employ sintering processes to cure their ink, nearly all cited the use of heat, laser, and/or UV sintering. Also cited, but to a much lesser extent, were infrared and electron beam processes. Importantly, Nano Dimension’s state-of-the-art AgCite™ family of nanoparticle silver inks sinters at low temperatures, which allows for more choice of printing substrates.
The survey also showed manufacturers are already using and would like to retain flexibility around printing on a range of substrate materials. Survey respondents say they use substrate materials including calcium composite wafers, glass-reinforced epoxy laminate sheets (FR4), glass, thermoplastic polymer resins (PET [Polyethylene terephthalate]), thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), paper, textiles and spun fiber polymers, metal and foils, organic polymers, ceramic and silicon. At present, the conductive and dielectric inks from Nano Dimension are suited to a broad range of substrates including paper, polymers, textiles and glass.
About half of the 103 respondents were from the Americas (44 from North America and 3 from South America). The remaining respondents were divided roughly in half between Europe and the Asia/Middle East regions.
To learn more about our specialty inks, click here
To participate in our ongoing inks survey, click here
Come visit us at IDTechEx show! 10-11th May, 2017, Estrel Convention center, Booth G11