NEWS: New Thinfilm & Pragmatic Facilities to Ramp Up Mass Production of PE


Two important new production facilities will shortly come on stream that will significantly alter the landscape for mass production of Printed Electronics. In separate announcements both PragmatIC Printing and Thifilm Electronics announced major new investments enabling mass market rollout.

PragmatIC, producer of ultra-low-cost flexible electronics, has secured agreements for installation of its first FlexLogIC system capable of producing billions of flexible integrated circuits. The system will be collocated with the company’s existing pilot production in Sedgefield, County Durham, in facilities leased from the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) at the UK’s National Printable Electronics Centre. it will be commissioned through 2017 ready for volume production in early 2018.

FlexLogIC is a self-contained, fully automated, modular “fab-in-a-box” for high throughput manufacturing of flexible plastic semiconductor devices. With the concept announced a year ago, PragmatIC has now completed design and engineering work, and the final specification delivers both higher capacity and lower production cost than the original concept, it says.

Meanwhile Thinfilm has confirmed the opening of a roll to roll printing facility in San Jose, California, making potentially billions of low-cost chips for everyday products. For the facility, it has revamped a North San Jose factory once used by Qualcomm. Although the grand opening is not until June, the company has moved in and plans to start producing chips in the coming weeks. It already has 115 employees, with more to come.

The plant will produce two types of products. One, an electronic article surveillance, or EAS, tag, often found in clothing and is used to prevent theft. The other is an NFC, or near-field communications, chip Thinfilm for smart product labels that can detect , for example, whether a bottle or box has been opened.

It plans to be manufacturing EAS tags using the roll-to-roll process by the fourth quarter of this year and NFC chips by the third quarter of next year. The move to the roll-to-roll method will allow it to increase production exponentially. Once it has the new production line in place, it will be able to produce 5 billion a year, company officials said.

 “Within a year or two, we could easily go from 5 billion to many tens of billions,” Davor Sutija  Thinfilm’s CEO said. Currently the chips industry produces about 20 billion microprocessors each year, he added, “We’ll be adding significant capacity to the world electronics industry.” The company can hit break-even cash flow if it is able to manufacture and sell 100 million chips a month at its new facility, he added.