(January 18, 2016) With the roll-to-roll overmoulding manufacturing process developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, components can be easily overmoulded into durable electronics products such as wearable sports solutions, toys and, for instance, household appliances equipped with an overmoulded solar cell.
The jointly funded project coordinated by VTT has once more achieved significant results promoting the birth of printable, flexible and functional electronics, services and commercial business in Finland. In line with its name, the Printed Into Products 2 project fosters the growth of the industrial manufacturing of printed intelligence by different companies.
"VTT's roll-to-roll overmoulding manufacturing process combined the printing, component assembly and overmoulding of components. The results we achieved show that it is easy to overmould components assembled onto a flexible film into durable products," states Project Manager Tapio Ritvonen from VTT.
In practice, this means that conductors, circuit boards and sensors, for instance, are printed onto a film, with the resulting electronic components then assembled by an assembly machine. Finally, the structure is overmoulded with plastic.
Oulu University of Applied Sciences carried out extensive series of tests on the products manufactured using this process, investigating the durability of the structures by means of salt spraying and various mechanical tests, for example.
A printable and modelled transistor was also developed with the roll-to-roll printing process during the project. Precision printing was tested at the same time, and was found to be the most precise in the world by achieving a 2-micrometre line width with equalline gap. During the project, the University of Oulu developed a measurement method for the quality assurance of industrial production, based on synchronised thermography, where a thermal camera locates any defects in a printed, conductive structure.