RIT collaborates with industry

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Printed electronics and related advanced manufacturing technologies have the potential to be a $45 billion global industry, according to business analysts.

RIT researchers, led by engineering professor Denis Cormier, will play a key role in advancing this industry as a result of a university-industry partnership with regional and national high-tech firms, and the acquisition of new state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing equipment.

“We have the infrastructure here,” says Cormier, the Earl W. Brinkman Professor in RIT’s industrial and systems engineering department, and one of the premier researchers in the area of advanced printing devices and technologies. “In this region alone, we have a variety of companies that make printing or deposition equipment, companies that make nano-inks for printing and another group of companies that use the printers and inks for applications. The region has a lot to offer, and we have the opportunity to transform the manufacturing industry.”

Advanced manufacturing is being used to develop applications such as smart sensors, biomedical devices, touch screens and fuel cells in a wide variety of industries—medical, aeronautics, military and automotive, for example.

The Brinkman Lab in RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering will be a resource to advanced manufacturing firms in the region and throughout New York state for developing some of these technologies. The lab could play a key role in the region’s economic development, which has a significant employment base in advanced manufacturing.

The lab’s most recent equipment acquisition is a NovaCentrix Pulseforge, an advanced curing system for printed electronics. RIT is one of the only universities nationally to have such a highly specialized instrument.

The Pulseforge uses high-intensity light at very short pulses to heat materials such as nano-inks that, once fused, render conductive properties. The process is essential in printing electronic devices such as sensors, smart cards, photovoltaic devices and flexible circuits.

With a $599,390 grant from the National Science Foundation, Cormier has also established a “Partnership for Innovation in Printed Devices and Materials,” which includes Rochester-based Intrinsiq Materials, located in the Eastman Business Park, as well as NovaCentrix and Optomec, national companies that manufacture the equipment necessary to engage in the emerging fields of printing/deposition, nano-inks and print applications.