Nano-tech 2018 was held at Tokyo Big Sight on February 14. The three-day show is one of the largest events for nanotechnologies. Other high-tech events that participated in the show included Printable Electronics 2018, ASTECH 2018, SURTECH 2018, 3D Printing 2018, 3Decotech 2018 and Neo Functional Material 2018. More than 700 booths were reserved this year. The participating organizations ranged from manufacturing companies to universities and R&D groups.
Many companies provide a sneak peek of their new technologies and advancements in their materials. Every year I discover something new during the exhibition. I focused on printable electronics during my visit. Following are a few new technologies and improvements on existing products.
First up is printing equipment from Mino Group, a printer manufacturer from Japan. They featured an advanced screen printer with a transfer mechanism for fine printing on non-flat surfaces. It is capable to print on both concave and convex surfaces. The basic idea is not very new, but the printing areas are much larger and more practical.
Toray Engineering, a manufacturing equipment supplier, displayed a huge TFT array sheet (900 mm x 3000 mm) printed from a large inkjet printer. They could not bring the printer to the show due to its size. The representative from Toray explained that the printer was designed for a university project and is capable to process materials through a roll-to-roll (RTR) system.
Nihon Denshi Seiki, a RTR printer manufacturer, featured several rotary printing machines including gravure, flexography and offset printers. All the printers are compact and productive.
Elephantech, a flexible circuit manufacturer from Japan, introduced a new quick-turn service using an inkjet printer. The manufacturing process consists of screen-printing with silver ink and electroless copper plating. The company emphasized that most of the flexible circuits can be delivered the next day. The inkjet printing process generates thick film circuit patterns with silver paste in a few hours, and employs electroless copper plating to enlarge the current capacities.
Future Ink, an electronic device manufacturer, showcased a motion-sensor system made by screen printing. The sensor device can detect fluctuations and pulses of the blood vessels clearly and precisely from this low-cost advancement.
Holst Centre, a printing firm from the Netherlands, reserved space in the Holland Pavilion. They featured a broad range of products created from a screen-printing process, and include silver-based thick film circuits, multi-layer circuits connected by printed via holes, embedded components, mechanical sensor array built on flexible substrates, SMT assembling on flex circuits and more.
Enough with printing technologies, I did expand my visit to include other technology segments. Gunze, a major textile manufacturer, introduced an anisotropic conductive cloth made through a special weaving process that combines different strings. It may not be ready for any commercial applications at this time, but it is very interesting.
ORIST, a local R&D organization in Osaka, is promoting a new electroless plating process that makes conductive metallic layers on non-conductive plastic resins. It is a part of a semi-additive process to generate high-density multi-layer circuits on non-metallic substrates. It could be a valuable process for new flexible devices earmarked for wearable electronics.
I am biased when I attend tech shows, and tend to focus on printable electronics. I plan on attending Nanotech 2019 in Japan next February and dedicate more time to view the entire show. Headlines Headlines of the week
1. Brother (Major electronics company in Japan) 2/22
Has decided to start a fuel cell business. It has started the promotion of the first product “BFC4-5000-DC380V” with 4.4 kW capacity.
2. Maxell (Major electronics material supplier in Japan) 2/26
Has developed a new technology to make energy capacity of lithium ion batteries 50% larger combining solid electrodes and silicon base anodes.
3. TOYOBO (Major textile supplier in Japan) 2/27
Will invest 10 billion yen to install a new manufacturing line of PET films to catch up the growing demands of LCD Display panels.
4. Mitsubishi Electric (Major electric & electronics company in Japan) 2/27
Has rolled out a new transformer device series for business use. The energy efficiencies became much higher introducing amorphous alloys.
5. Nippon Electric Glass (Major glass supplier in Japan) 3/1
Has developed a new glass material with high-transparency for deep UV ray. The transparency is almost same as quartz, but lower processing temperature.
6. DAIDO STEEL (Major steel products supplier in Japan) 3/1
Has made the highest magnetic permeability with soft magnetic material. The new material could be valuable to make high-sensitivity sensors for auto driving cars.
7. Kyocera (Major device manufacturer in Japan) 3/2
Will invest 5.5 billion yen to build a new manufacturing plant in Kagoshima Prefecture. The manufacturing capacity of ceramic package will increase 25%.
8. NEC (Major electronics company in Japan) 3/5
Has developed a new image detector system for retail stores. The system can detect multiple objects without workers.
9. AIST (Major R&D organization in Japan) 3/6
Has developed a new rubber material with high-heat conductivity. It could be valuable for flexible electronics.
10. GS YUASA (Major battery supplier in Japan) 3/6
Is successful to incase energy density of lithium ion batteries (3x larger) introducing new metallic silicon as the anode.