Tuesday, 10 December 2019 11:44

Epson invests in printhead tech startup

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Printer giant Epson has agreed to invest in printed electronics startup Elephantech, and the parties have entered into a partnership agreement that includes the supply of inkjet printheads.

Elephantech makes flexible printed circuits using inkjet printing.

The conventional process involves starting with a copper layer over the whole board, lithographically masking the traces, and then chemically removing the remaining copper.

Elephantech's proprietary manufacturing method deposits the metal materials only on those parts of the board surface where conductors are required.

According to the company this is quicker, cheaper, and has a lower environmental impact.

As part of its corporate vision, Epson is looking to sell printheads based on its PrecisionCore technology to other companies.

The partnership with Elephantech, which has a large potential customer base, is expected to accelerate the use of inkjet printheads in industrial applications such as printed electronics, which is a priority area for Epson.

Elephantech is expanding its inkjet-printed flexible printed circuit manufacturing operations, and aims to develop its technology to form wiring patterns on 3D plastic objects and to print biomaterials.

"The environmental impact of global manufacturing continues to grow and is set to exceed the level that the earth can absorb, making it harder and harder to claim sustainability," said Elephantech CEO Shinya Shimizu.

"I believe that additive, inkjet-based manufacturing processes in which material is printed only where it is needed will become the global standard in manufacturing, replacing existing subtractive processes in which material that is not needed is removed and disposed of. We have and will continue to lead a technology revolution toward low-waste manufacturing processes."

Epson President Minoru Usui said "We at Epson are committed to playing a central role as an indispensable company in making the world a better place, and toward that end, we are creating new value that can help solve societal challenges and achieve sustainability.

"Innovations in manufacturing processes using Epson's inkjet printheads, which have competitive edge in terms of printing performance, environmental performance, and ink compatibility, are a core part of our strategy.

"The collaboration with Elephantech in printed electronics is an extremely important first step toward reaching our goal of driving innovation in global manufacturing by creating new, more compact, inkjet-based production processes that have a lower environmental impact."

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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