Manufacturing of Polymeric Substrates and Materials for Roll to Roll Flexible Printed Materials and Additive Processes

J. Mead, C. Barry, A. Akyurtlu, M. Herndon
University of Massachusetts Lowell,
United States

Keywords: substrates, flexible electronics


New devices and structures for Flexible Hybrid Electronics will depend on advances in polymer substrates, inks, and fibers for additive manufacturing. In spite of their processing ease, biocompatibility, biodegradability, and flexibility, opportunities for improved devices leveraging polymer materials are often overlooked. For example, nanoscale enhancements for better barrier, lighter weight and tailored properties of the substrate. This work will present novel manufacturing approaches for the incorporation of nano/microscale functionality. Substrate materials include designer nanocomposites (polymers with nanoclays, CNTs, silver nanoparticles, etc.) prepared using a commercially relevant continuous, twin-screw extrusion process. Multilayer films, with micro or nanolayers can be fabricated using a modified extrusion process for applications in optical films, barrier packaging and substrates. The surface energy of the substrate can be tailored to control ink behavior (wetting) by changing the surface structure and chemistry. Nano or micro-structured surfaces can be superhydrophobic over the entire surface or patterned to control surface energy in different locations. Printing on the surface provides for preparation of unique structures, which can be scaled to a roll to roll process. A nanoscale printing process can be used to assemble polymers or nanoparticles (conducting/nonconducting) (inks) into nanoscale patterns and transferred to a polymer substrate using the roll to roll process. Through these manufacturing processes structures for flexible electronic devices, metamaterials, as well as structural nanocomposites, or biomaterial applications can be fabricated.