Industrial Digital Fabrication Using Inkjet Technology

Time: Mon 2019-12-09 10.00

Location: Ka-Sal B (Peter Weissglas), Kistagången 16, Kista (English)

Subject area: Industrial Information and Control Systems Media Technology Information and Communication Technology

Doctoral student: Ingo Reinhold , Elektronik och inbyggda system, XaarJet ltd., Division of Electronics

Opponent: Prof. Matti Mäntysalo, Tampere University

Supervisor: Prof. Carl-Mikael Zetterling, Integrerade komponenter och kretsar


The use of acoustic waves initiated by the deformation of a microchannel is one method for generating monodisperse, micrometer-sized droplets from small orifices and is employed in piezo-electric inkjet printheads. These printheads are used in both graphical printing and digital fabrication, where functionalities, such as optical, biological, electrical or mechanical, are being produced locally. The processes leading to detrimental artifacts such as satellite droplets or nozzle outages, however, are not fully understood and require profound experimentation. This thesis presents both novel techniques to study jetting for optimal droplet formation and reliability, as well as the post-processing techniques required for solution-based production of a conductive feature on low-cost polymeric substrates.

A multi-exposure imaging system using laser light pulses shorter than 50 ns and a MEMS micro-mirror enabled the imaging of the droplet formation at ten instances on the droplet's  travel towards the substrate. The technique allows for the study of droplet formation, satellite droplet break-up and secondary tail formation allowing for better control and understanding of the process.

Reliability measurement using a linescan camera was introduced to record every droplet ejected from the width of a printhead. The variations in droplet velocity and misalignment of the printhead required the use of a constant background illumination to reliably capture the droplets. The resulting low-contrast images were post-processed using statistical analysis of the graylevel distributions of both, the droplet and background pixels, and were subsequently used in a histogram matching algorithm to enable reliable identification of the threshold value required for unhindered detection of missing droplets based on the printed image. Using temporal oversampling the technique was shown to qualitatively describe droplet velocity variations introduced by the actuation of the printhead.  

The conversion of inkjet-printed metallic nanoparticle inks to conductive structures was investigated with a focus on the applicability to industrial processes. Intense pulsed light (IPL) processing achieved comparable results to convective oven sintering in less than ten seconds. The dynamics of IPL sintering were found to be strongly dependent on the spectral composition of the light resonating in the processing chamber. By implementing a passive filtering concept, thermal runaway was prevented and the line conformation was optimized irrespective of the underlying substrate. Alternatively, pulse-shaping, to tailor the energy flux into the deposit and incorporate drying in the IPL process, was found to generate conductive copper features without pre-drying.

The findings were applied to applications comprising small droplet generation for nanoimprint lithography, the fabrication of conductors for blind via connections to buried LED dies as well as the hybrid generation of hyperbolic ion-trap electrodes for  mass spectrometry applications. The addition of the non-contact and high accuracy of the inkjet process enabled suitable performance that lies beyond that of conventional processes.

Belongs to: School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Last changed: Nov 14, 2019