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Direct-Write Material Printing Capabilities

The Brinkman Lab is uniquely equipped to conduct printed material and device R&D. We often formulate our own nano-inks which are then printed using either an Optomec Aerosol Jet machine or an nScrypt microdispensing machine. A Novacentrix photonic curing or sintering system is then used to thermally process the printed materials. The integration of high power pulsed photonic sintering with multi-material direct-write printing capabilities makes the Brinkman Lab among the nation’s most unique and well equipped facilities for printed materials and devices.

Novacentrix PulseForge 3300 Photonic Curing/Sintering Machine

The PulseForge 3300 tool cures or sinters printed materials via a series of short but intense bursts of broad spectrum light from xenon flash lamps. This extremely high power production machine is able to continuously pulse the lamps at frequencies in excess of 1 kHz for R2R applications. A continuous conveyor belt transports the work pieces beneath the pulsing lamp units for high speed processing. The technique has been successfully used to sinter a variety of printed metal inks (e.g. silver or copper) on low temperature substrates such as paper or plastic without damage to the substrates. The system’s high power has allowed us to pursue research in which high temperature ceramic films are densified in a matter of milliseconds.

Optomec Aerosol Jet Machine

The Aerosol Jet system is equipped with two pneumatic atomizers for multi-material non-contact printing. A unique feature of our machine is that it is configured to allow simultaneous printing of both inks when graded material compositions are desired. The ratios of the two inks can be varied on the fly during printing. The pneumatic atomizers work with nano-inks up to 1,000cP viscosity and can produce lines at or under 20 microns wide. A typical line thickness is 1-5 microns. The system has a motorized z-stage that allows it to print on non-planar surfaces (e.g. 3D conformal electronics).

nScrypt Microdispensing System

The nScrypt microdispensing SmartPump system excels at printing ultra high viscosity inks and pastes as high as 1McP. This is useful for printing copper and silver pastes as well as thick resistor pastes. We typically print lines that are 50-150 micron wide and thick depending on the size of ceramic nozzle that’s loaded. The system produces results comparable with what one might get when screen printing pastes. The important distinction is that the system’s digitally controlled tool path eliminates the need for fixed screens. The system also allows one to print on non-planar surfaces.

SurfX Atomflo 400 Atmospheric Plasma System

Atmospheric plasmas allow us to clean and functionalize substrates prior to printing of the nano-inks. The plasma does not require a vacuum environment, and can be integrated directly within any of the direct-write printing systems. Atmospheric plasmas are often referred to as “cold” plasmas due to the fact that their low temperature will not damage thermally sensitive substrates such as PET films. The plasma chemistry can be tailored to functionalize substrates with either hydrophilic or hydrophobic properties. For printed materials, hydrophilic surface functionalization often results in much greater adhesion of the printed nano-ink with the substrate.

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