The Holst Centre research organization has built a new proprietary roll-to-roll (R2R) sintering platform for fast and low-temperature curing of printed conductive structures. The group says this tool is a next step in the creation of a complete equipment set for R2R manufacturing, which will enable the center and its industrial partners to further advance such technologies for the manufacturing of organic PV, flexible OLEDs, and smart packaging.
High web speeds and low temperatures are critical elements for successful R2R manufacturing of OPV and plastic electronics. The new platform uses a novel photonic sintering process, developed by Holst Centre, which heats only the printed target material rather than the whole carrier substrate.
The tool can sinter printed conductive structures in less than a second, enabling throughputs of more than 5 meters of flexible foil per minute. It also works at much lower temperatures than traditional sintering techniques, thus preventing distortion of the carrier substrates and bringing down energy costs, according to the Eindhoven, the Netherlands-based center.
“Initial results from the sintering platform have been very good,” said Erwin Meinders, program manager of printed conductive structures at Holst Centre. “The sintering platform is an important step toward fast R2R manufacturing of flexible OLED and OPV devices. The tool will be used to further advance the developed photonic sintering technology and to investigate new low-temperature sintering techniques and materials, such as next-generation copper inks.”
Holst Centre started development of a complete R2R testing line in 2008. The line features printing, coating, drying, and lamination stages as well as the new sintering unit. A vacuum deposition stage is in development.
The Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands and Holst Centre have a joint research program focused on R2R OPV, which aims to transfer lab-scale processes into low-cost, large-area processes compatible with flexible web production.