Thursday, 31 July 2014
masthead+quote+image
Advanced search

Automated device tests printed electronics as they are made

Engineers in Finland have developed equipment for automatically testing printed electronics as they are produced.

The device draws inspiration from similar equipment used when making large printed circuit boards, testing and measuring different components on a roll of printed electronics without the need to manually connect to each one.

A team from VTT Technical Research Centre commissioned the equipment from local company Probot Oy for the pilot production environment run by VTT and printed electronics community PrintoCent in the town of Oulu.

Printed electronics offers a way of producing electronic components and circuits by printing them directly onto a substrate, enabling rapid and low-cost mass production of thousands of components in a single roll of material.

‘If you have a roll of, say, OPBs [on-chip peripheral buses], the customer wants to know what is the efficiency of each of them; what is the yield within the roll,’ said VTT team leader Mikko Paakkolanvaara, adding that collecting this information manually would be ‘awfully time consuming and expensive’.

The equipment uses a series of spikes that can be configured for the specific printing layout being produced. It can run either at the end of the manufacturing process or in between different printing layers to monitor progress.

When these spikes come into contact with the components on a section of the roll of printed electronics, they can test whether each one is working and measure its resistance, capacitance and conductivity and record this information in a database.

In the case of visual display components such as printed organic light-emitting diodes (LEDs), the spikes supply current to the display and a camera takes an image to record whether it is emitting light. Paakkolanvaara said the system could even be configured to identify individual pixels in a display that wasn’t working.

He added that although the equipment had been produced for VTT’s pilot production environment, it could be adapted for commercial use with few changes.


Have your say

Mandatory
Mandatory
Mandatory
Mandatory

Related images

My saved stories (Empty)

You have no saved stories

Save this article

Digital Edition

The Engineer July Digi Issue

Poll

London Mayor Boris Johnson is lobbying for a £10 additional charge for diesel cars to drive into Central London by 2020, and for road tax on diesel cars and all pre-2006 cars to be increased, to counter air pollution. What option most closely matches your opinion on this?

Previous Poll

Europe's largest tidal array in the Pentand Firth off Orkney will eventually generate up to 86MW of power. What will it take for tidal energy to make an appreciable contribution to the UK's energy needs?

Read and comment on the results here