March 21, 2008

Roll to roll R2R production of electronics

Up until now inkjet has been the favoured manufacturing technique of the burgeoning organic light-emitting diode (OLED) industry, but a growing number of companies and organisations are looking to roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing for making OLED displays.

GE Global Research has reached a milestone in next-generation lighting, demonstrating the world's first roll-to-roll manufactured organic light emitting diodes.(OLED) GE is aiming to introduce OLED lighting products to market by the year 2010. In the 2010 timescale, they're looking at niche, high-end applications, like in architectural designs. The demo rolled out about 20 feet of OLEDs.

GE OLEDs produced roll to roll

The Holy Grail of the flexible display industry is to be able to manufacture the entire display, on a flexible substrate, at fast speeds, with minimal handling and at low cost. R2R manufacturing, traditionally a low-tech method for making disposable items such as packaging and newspapers, is seen as the solution to this challenge.

The US Display Consortium (USDC) has awarded funds to two projects to help boost R2R manufacturing technology for display components and other electronic devices. The USDC recently awarded $10 million (e7.8 million) to Binghamton University in New York State to develop an R&D centre that will evaluate the potential R2R technology for the microelectronics industry

Printing presses can get up to speeds of 2500-3000 feet per minute.

Depending on the printing technology chosen speeds of 150 feet per minute (fpm) to 300 fpm can be readily achieved for printing of R2R produced electronics

If some production and devices compatible with R2R production could achieve the quality and performance of CMOS lithography devices then the multi-billion semiconductor wafer plants that make 50,000 wafers per month with 100-300 chips on each wafer could be replaced with production of 2000 wafers per minute. 1500 times faster production at the 2500 feet per minute speed range.

Rapid progress in the field of organic semiconductors makes the vision of plastic integrated circuits reachable. Polymer electronic is expected to be a promising technology for low-cost and large-area electronic systems, which can not be addressed by traditional chip technology. Solutions of polymer or polymer based pastes offer advantages due to their easy processing possibilities which give the opportunity to coat and pattern them like a printing ink. Cost requirements of polymer electronic imply that for manufacturing also very cost-effective processes must be used. Hence reel-to-reel manufacturing with endless substrates of foil is a key technology to fulfill the challenging cost demands of cheap flexible systems.