Optomec announced today
that the company, along with a major Aerospace OEM, was awarded a project to
eliminate solder from the manufacture of electronics. The $300,000 proof of
concept project is structured as a one-year feasibility study. Follow-on awards
are anticipated based on initial project results.
The main goal of the Solder Free project is to demonstrate the fabrication
of functional circuits without solder. To accomplish this goal, a leading Aerospace/Defense
company will design multiple test circuits, including a Twin-T notch filter
circuit and an inverter circuit that will then be completely printed using an
Aerosol Jet system. All elements of these test circuits, which include resistors,
capacitors, transistors and interconnects, will be fully printed by an Aerosol
Jet system and will demonstrate its ability to precisely deposit a variety of
conductor, semiconductor, resistor and dielectric materials. Performance and
cost data will be gathered to demonstrate the potential savings of using Aerosol
Jet compared to traditional manufacturing processes for military printed electronics
Aerosol Jet systems are able to print virtually any material onto any substrate.
The process involves forming a dense stream of ink micro-droplets into a tightly
confined jet and then focusing the beam of material onto a circuit board or
substrate. The droplet stream is printed at specific locations on a substrate
using CAD/CAM information to drive the printing process. This approach eliminates
the time and cost of creating screens or stencils.
Both the Lead Solder process and the Lead-Free Solder process exhibit many
problems and challenges for current day electronics manufacturers, all of which
can be avoided when the Aerosol Jet process is employed. The Lead Solder process
poses e-waste hazards worldwide and many countries have taken measures to prevent
the use of lead and other harmful materials in manufacturing. The use of Lead-Free
solders in the fabrication process introduces reliability challenges, including
the growth of tin whiskers, solder cracking and voids. The Aerosol Jet deposition
process, however, can print the entire circuit board, including interconnects,
and active and passive components. No soldering is required, hence environmental
and reliability concerns are eliminated. Other key benefits of the Aerosol Jet
process include reduced cycle time and reduced cost for low volume production.
Dave Keicher, Optomec VP/CTO, states, “Optomec is pleased to have been
selected by the Air Force for the proof of concept phase of the Solder Free
electronics project. The ability of Aerosol Jet to direct write active and passive
components as well as fine line interconnects on virtually any substrate makes
it an ideal solution for fabricating completely printed electronic circuitry.
In light of the international concerns regarding the use of lead and other hazardous
materials, Aerosol Jet holds the promise to become the green standard for new
clean-tech printed electronics manufacturing processes.”
For more information on Aerosol Jet and its use for military and commercial
applications, please click on the link to download the whitepaper “Aerosol
Jet Direct Write Printing for Mil-Aero Electronic Applications.” http://www.optomec.com/registration/reg_form?fileid=Aerosol_Jet_Direct_Write_Printing_for_Mil_Aero_Electronic_Apps.pdf
Optomec is the world-leading provider of additive manufacturing systems for
high-performance applications in the Electronics, Biomedical, and Aerospace
& Defense markets. These systems utilize Optomec’s proprietary Aerosol
Jet and LENS powder-metal fabrication technology. The company has a global customer
base of industry-leading manufacturers.