Changing the manufacturing paradigm for electronics
August 25, 2015
One of the things that has been so striking about my time in the electronics industry has been the number of conversations I have had about the art of manufacturing.
Getting a product into mass production is the unequivocal goal for any development project, but yet there can still be fierce debate on what that actually means.
In general the goal is to achieve cost efficiency through volume which has led to the construction of ever larger production facilities. However this singular vision has been skewed over the last few years by the growing trend to more customised manufacturing concepts.
This has been instigated by the growing use of 3D printing for the fabrication of mechanical parts in products.
Electronics made using FlexEnable's technology have unique benefits that can be exploited for both manufacturing paradigms. Firstly, our manufacturing processes are all done at low temperatures with many of the active materials being deposited from solution.
We are exploiting these attributes to develop a manufacturing process that is completely digital and ideally suited for the customised manufacture of electronic components at competitive prices. This will empower a new generation of designers with the tools required to further diversify their products and stand out in the market.
Another important attribute of a digital (or direct-write) approach is that it completely alleviates the need for any physical masking during production. Of course this significantly reduces the costs and time associated with product design cycles, but there is an even bigger benefit for high volume manufacturing.
The very nature of flexible electronics and displays enables the use of roll to roll techniques to achieve much greater manufacturing efficiency at much lower cost. The efficiency gains come from greater process speed which allows for much greater throughput from even a modestly sized production facility. However, the only way to achieve the greater process efficiency is to remove the physical mask steps which are not transferrable to roll to roll production.
Our technology is transforming the way electronics are integrated into products, and it will also transform the dynamics and economics in which those electronics are made.