ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico – September 12, 2017 — Optomec, a leading global supplier of production-grade additive manufacturing systems for 3D printed electronics and 3D printed metals, today announced that Dr. James Q. Feng, Principal Engineer for Optomec, will give a presentation titled “Laser Sintering for 3D Processing of Metal Nanoparticle Inks” at the International Microelectronics Assembly and Packaging Society (iMAPS) Advanced Technology Workshop on Additive Manufacturing in Huntsville, Alabama on September 13. Recently, Optomec was awarded a NASA SBIR contract for the further development of an Adaptive Laser Sintering System (ALSS). The success of this endeavor will enable electronic circuitry to be printed onto a wider variety of temperature sensitive substrates expanding its use for production applications. The fully automated system will also enable printed circuitry to be repaired or manufactured with minimal human intervention paving the way for its use in long duration NASA space missions.
Dr. Feng’s presentation will explain how Optomec has been working with Harding University to develop a robust, intuitive Adaptive Laser Sintering System (ALSS). Successful development of laser assisted drying and sintering of 3D printed electronics will greatly reduce the production time for 3D printed electronics devices and substantially reduce the need for human intervention. With printed electronics, the circuits are printed on thermoplastic and thermoset polymer materials that provide the desired structural and insulating properties of multifunctional 3D devices. The conductive lines are printed by additive manufacturing processes typically in the form of liquid metal nanoparticle (NP) inks. In order to meet the required circuit functionality, the printed ink material must be transformed to a solid metal path (called metallization) by sintering at elevated temperature. Dr. Feng will discuss how metal nanoparticles are widely used in conductive inks because they enable relatively low sintering temperature (some as low as 100 C), compatible for fabricating circuits on common plastic substrates. Dr. Feng will describe Optomec’s laser-based process that transmits energy locally for sintering the printed metal ink with a small heat-affected zone in milliseconds when scanning over the printed feature. With very short heating time and a small heat-affected zone, the localized peak sintering temperature can be substantially higher than that of damage threshold for the underlying substrate, to yield effective metallization with desirable electrical resistivity. Applications toward thermocouples, strain gauges, and 3D interconnect on flexible film and 3D mechanical structures will be demonstrated.
The IMAPS Advanced Technical Workshop on Additive Manufacturing will bring together experts to report on the progress and the challenges of this emerging field. This technology is expected to impact the options for integration of active and passive components and unique mechanical packaging techniques and tooling and will exploit additive approaches to advance microelectronic mechanical system packaging. Sessions will cover the development of printable electronic materials, the options for manufacturing/printing, and more. For more information on the event, click here.
Optomec is a privately-held, rapidly growing supplier of Additive Manufacturing systems. Optomec’s patented Aerosol Jet Systems for printed electronics and LENS 3D Printers for metal components are used by industry to reduce product cost and improve performance. Together, these unique printing solutions work with the broadest spectrum of functional materials, ranging from electronic inks to structural metals and even biological matter. Optomec has more than 300 marquee customers around the world, targeting production applications in the Electronics, Energy, Life Sciences and Aerospace industries.
LENS (Laser Engineered Net Shaping) is a registered trademark of Sandia National Laboratories. Aerosol Jet and Optomec are registered trademarks of Optomec Inc.