I-Connect007 editor Richard Ayes recently interviewed Rafael Nestor Mantaring, vice president for design and development at Philippines-based EMS firm Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc. (IMI), who discusses the benefits and impact of printed electronics for the electronics manufacturing industry and the current challenges the technology faces.
Richard Ayes: Printed electronics has been around for a long time, but during the past few years, it has become of the hottest topics in the industry. What can you say about the developments in this space?
Rafael Nestor Mantaring: While the past few years have seen rapid developments in this field, the applications are still limited or very niche. That is because active circuits produced using printed electronics suffer in performance and require a larger area when compared to circuits fabricated using conventional substrates. But it has its space: in displays, thin batteries, solar panels--although still at a very low efficiency--wearable electronics, and sensors.
Ayes: From your perspective, what is the impact of printed electronics in the EMS/PCBA industry?
Mantaring: I don’t expect it to have any significant impact in the short to medium term. Because the applications are very niche, EMS companies may not find the target markets or applications attractive. Furthermore, suppliers will likely do their own manufacturing. After all, one of the attractions of printed electronics is that it supposedly can be done with relatively inexpensive equipment.
Ayes: What are the benefits of PE in electronics manufacturing?
Mantaring: One of the promises of printed electronics is being able to prototype circuits inexpensively and by yourself. This could accelerate the development of electronic products in the future. On the other hand, printed electronics has the potential of supplying components with special requirements to EMS companies. For example, very thin batteries and very flexible assemblies.
Ayes: What about the challenges in this space?
Mantaring: The challenges are producing faster, more efficient, and smaller circuits. This requires developing the right materials: that is, the inks that are “printed” on the chosen substrate and the high-resolution printing equipment.Read the full column here.Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of SMT Magazine.