Inkjet Printing Solder Mask

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Known for their film-based products, AgfaGevaert has turned its focus to the difficult task of inkjet printing solder mask by partnering with solder mask expert Electra Polymers. Sitting down with Frank Louwet and Mariana Van Dam of Agfa Specialty Products, Publisher Barry Matties and Technical Editor Pete Starkey learn more about the partnership and where they currently stand in the development of what will be a definite game changer.

Matties: Frank, you’re a part of the Agfa Specialty Products group, and the three areas that you’re covering are Advanced Coating and Chemicals, Functional Foils, and Classics. Tell us a little bit about the Classics.

Louwet: Classics are based on our core photosensitive Ag technology and contain three applications: aerial, microfilm and NDT, a film for non-destructive testing. This latter is an X-ray film used in industrial applications for checking weldings in pipelines and airplane engines.

Matties: And what about the functional foils? 

Louwet: The Agfa functional foils business is based on our in-house capability of producing and coating mainly polyester films. It can be done all in one place. Main application areas for these functionalized polyester films are media for security printing, synthetic paper and back sheets for PV. Synaps is the trade name for this synthetic paper. This high-duty polyester print medium is used for menu printing, manuals, advertising or name cards.

Matties: The area that we’re talking about is advanced coatings and chemicals, producing and commercializing films and inkjet inks for the PCB and chemical milling industry. You said you have 40% of the film market, which is substantial. That’s quite an accomplishment.

Louwet: We have good products combined with a good sales and service organization. Agfa Materials has its own sales organizations in Europe, China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, South East Asia and the U.S. The local sales teams have good technological capabilities, so they can give excellent service and support to customers. Customers appreciate this. We have very good inroads into this market and are now also developing UV inkjet inks to digitalize some of the production steps as an alternative for the traditional analogue technology. We have a range of legend inks and etch resist already commercially available.

Van Dam: Agfa holds wide experience in inkjet ink development for different graphic applications. We now have an integrated, bigger team working on inkjet inks, both for graphics and PCB.

To read the full version of this interview which appeared in the February 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.


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