The joint technology partnership of Preco and Conductive Inkjet Technology has resulted in the Metaljet 6000, a roll to roll system designed to produce quick, low cost flexible circuits, thin film batteries and RFID antenna.
Now available as a commercial unit, the digital print engine at the heart of the MetalJet is said to dispense CIT’s special UV curable inkjet ink accurately for the direct write of metals onto non porous substrates. Xaar inkjet heads handle the special non conductive ink that contains a catalyst. Following UV curing, the coating becomes conductive within the quick development processor.
The patented web accumulator that has been integrated into the system enables high speed, electroless metal deposition, removing the need for large chemistry baths. Around 50nm to one micron of copper is deposited where it is wanted, making for a cost effective alternative to etched copper.
According to Preco, the bitmap format makes job changes easy. There are no plates and no clean-up. Process speeds are claimed to be up to 18.28m/m.
Said to be capable of driving down antenna unit costs to less than 1 Euro cent, the system is believed to provide the lowest cost technology for the manufacture of RFID antennas.