Flexible PCBs can be populated automatically

October 08, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (Fraunhofer IPT, Aachen, Germany) has developed a range of techniques to create thin electronic components for flexible displays and sensors by printing conductive inks onto a carrier foil. Equipped with electronic components, such films open up a wide range of applications: from sensors for the packaging industry to rapid tests for medical examinations.

At the Productronica trade fair for electronics production in Munich from 14 to 17 November 2017, Fraunhofer IPT will be presenting a combined process of roll-to-roll printing and automated foil assembly, which can be used to produce large numbers of flexible electronic components.

By combining printed films with more complex semiconductor elements, it is possible to integrate a wide range of functions in addition to electrical signals. However, the manufacture of such combined assemblies presents a number of challenges, such as the assembly of systems, especially when optical functions are required. The Fraunhofer IPT is therefore not only researching the roll-to-roll process for the continuous production of flexible, hybrid circuit carriers and developing manufacturing modules for existing production plants. The Aachen researchers also combine this technology with a basic machine for automated assembly and connection technology for opto-electronic systems such as lasers or cameras. By combining these two manufacturing approaches into a complete solution, it is possible to manufacture printed electronics continuously and to equip them with electronic components in the next step.