Flexible paper or
fabric electronics

Paper or fabric electronics based on foil open up new possibilities

Is it possible to produce paper / fabric etched electronics based on foils in roll-to-roll productions? The advantages of achieving high conductivity, high bending capacity of the circuit and more strength compared to printed material were tempting. It was a challenge that demanded a solution.

At Skultuna Induflex we take on new challenges, inventing flexible laminating solutions for a wide range of products, finding ways to make everyday life easier. With our long history of research, experience with lamination, know-how and skill, we continuously work on innovating lighter, smarter and more environmentally friendly flexible laminate products, focusing on optimizing function and performance. Our curiosity led us to finding solutions to roll-to-roll etchable materials with a special bonding technique between carrier and metal. If successful the etched circuits could be put on any substrate using transfer techniques. The result could be tearable electronic paper tickets, sewable and super flexible circuits in cloth, thin circuits or totally transparent circuits for LED illuminated glass – just to name a few possible applications.

Peel strength is key

Skultuna Induflex has, in cooperation with Mid Sweden University (MIUN) and Backer Calesco, developed a new method of producing paper or nonwoven etched electronics based on foil by laminating in roll-to-roll production.

“The process showed that it was important to have the right peel strength between metal and substrate, while keeping the peel strength sufficiently low between metal and carrier”, explains Robert Öhman, Head of R&D at Skultuna Induflex.

One of the many challenges was to balance the peel strength between the metal and the carrier – it had to be strong enough not to delaminate during the process, yet easy to remove after laminating on to the substrate, i.e., paper or nonwoven textile. The end result is paper or textile electronic circuits based on foil, making it possible for customers to solder or glue components to a highly flexible circuit.

Successful flexible paper and fabric lamination solutions

Testing of the etched flexible circuits indicated a successful result. Together with MIUN, Skultuna Induflex made prototypes with copper, aluminum, paper and nonwoven fabric. After Skultuna Induflex made the lamination, MIUN added components on aluminum and copper paper laminates. This went very well using the soldering process. The nonwoven fabric laminates had to be glued, otherwise the fabric would melt from the heat during soldering.

Even though the flexible laminating solutions were a success, some challenges remain to be solved – one is how to remove the adhesive layer on top of the metal which is a prerequisite when  adding components by soldering or glue.

“I think this type of research and invention , combining curiosity and imagination with methodical work, is a key factor for success. And we will solve the future challenges as well”, concludes Robert Öhman.

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