The ‘Future of Printing’ or ‘Printing the Future’ - The technology bridge over printing limitations

A. Batt
Photon-Jet Ltd, IS

Keywords: ink jet, printing

Summary:

Graphics, additive manufacturing and bio-printing markets are all moving to digital, high resolution, functional printing and deposition of various materials. However, users are currently restricted by materials, resolution and versatility limitations of available technologies such as inkjet, screen-printing or photolithography. 3D printing which the Economist (21/4/12) described as “the third industrial revolution”, is here. A technology breakthrough based on Laser Induced Forward Transfer (LIFT) is opening new opportunities and applications. LIFT is a well known and practiced technology and has been proven as a method of Laser Direct Write (LDW) of a broad range of materials from. In the LIFT process one has a transparent donor plate or substrate, coated with the deposition material and an acceptor which receives the printed material. A laser is focused through the transparent donor plate and the energy generates a process of droplets printed on the acceptor. LIFT has been proven for deposition of solids as gold, copper, aluminum, titanium and other solids and “soft” materials as liquids and pastes. The LIFT process has also opened many fairly new applications of deposition of bio compatible and biologic materials as protein, bacteria, stem cells and live tissue without degrading or damaging the viability of these materials. LIFT’s advantages over other deposition techniques are, the broad spectrum of materials, high spatial resolution, preservation of material properties and other attributes. Although LIFT is a well known practice for many years in research, it has failed to make a breakthrough in industrial and manufacturing processes. Several of the reasons are that designing and engineering, production worthy equipment, has various obstacles. Materials must be preprepared and may have limited shelf-life, substrates must be mechanically translated at high speed with very precise accuracy, substrates must be changed frequently and other mechanical limitations. We are presenting a new patented approach to LIFT, that overcomes some of the existing limitations of the process. A LIFT apparatus that can flow materials without prior preparation. The material can flow through the system as in existing inkjet and other printing systems enabling a production worthy solution. As many materials and applications are enabled by LIFT technology, we shall present two examples, a BioMed application in regenerative medicine and an industrial application related to electronic circuit manufacturing.