Mekoprint’s electrical function test for roll to roll printed electronics is not just a new version of its predecessor. It’s a technological quantum leap, able to ensure customers almost infinite testing options for the production of such products as capacitive touch sensors for the major appliances of the future.
Mekoprint develops in line with its customers – one of the criteria for being able to supply the global giants within major and small appliances. The use of touch technology in the major appliance industry were the reason Mekoprint co-developed and invested in one of the world’s first automatic testers of roll to roll printed electronics. A machine able to ensure the highest product quality.
WHEN WASHING MACHINES HAVE TOUCH SCREENS
Tobias Holmgaard Stær is Head of Printed Electronics at Mekoprint, and explains: “The major white goods manufacturers began to move away from the relatively simple touch foils used to date on the control panels of their washing machines, dishwashers etc. They wanted to use more complex capacitive touch sensors, already in use on smart phones. That made new demands of the way we quality-assured our roll to roll printed electronics. We needed a solution able to quickly and effectively ensure that the rolls with printed electronics we send to our customers are 100% fault-free. And it had to work even though the material is flexible, stretchable and the new sensors on it are much more complex than their predecessors”.
Mekoprint therefore started to develop a tester able to fulfil all those criteria. Mekoprint worked out the specifications for next generation of testers, and joined forces with a manufacturer specialising in “flying probe technology” to start development.
“The use of flying probe technology represented a turning point”, says Morten Christensen, Quality & Technology Director at Mekoprint. Flying probes mean that just four test probes handle the quality test by flying to those points on the foil they are programmed to initially. A physical “bed of nails” was previously required to test individual points on the film. And they had to be adapted to each product to be tested, costing time and money. We’re no longer hardware-dependent – with the R2R electrical function test, we can program precisely the kind of test the customer requires, before the probes fly off to do their job”.
THREE BENEFITS FOR MEKOPRINT CUSTOMERS
The fact that electronics testing is no longer dependent on customised hardware yields a number of advantages. Firstly, much higher volumes can be tested in less time. In real terms, that means more capacity for Mekoprint, making it easier to keep up with growing demand. Secondly, start-up costs for the customer are lower. Finally, and not least, it prepares Mekoprint for the next generation of roll to roll printed electronics and sensors, which are guaranteed to be more complex.
As Tobias Holmgaard Stær says: “We have combined the best of both worlds. Screen printing is highly cost-effective, but also traditionally involves a slightly less reliable technology, subject to a certain failure rate. The new test procedure eliminates any uncertainty, and we can guarantee a thoroughly-tested product printed on flexible films for in-line, high volume production at a competitive price. A number of our customers have already benefited enormously”.
|MORE DETAILS ON R2R TESTING OPTIONS|
100% electrical test with flying probe technology
|MORE ON PRINTED ELECTRONICS|
Flexible and stretchable sensors and circuits