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Ewloe, United Kingdom
Writing, tweeting, debating and occasionally getting a little over-excited about 3D Printing. But always aiming to keep it real!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Optomec Position

Today Optomec will introduce its Aerosol Jet Display Lab System to the American market at the FlexTech 2010 Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. The system has been designed and developed for the production of next generation touch screen and display applications.

Optomec is a company that intrigues me. Its proprietary LENS additive process has been around for many years and is well established and utilised among savvy clients in advanced sectors such as aerospace and defence. The applications for the LENS process have proved diverse — manufacturing and repairing high value metal components from aircraft engine parts to medical implants. However, the company often seems to fly below general radar levels, quietly going about its business.

The Aerosol Jet Display Lab goes a step further than LENS, it is an advanced additive platform that utilises Optomec’s patented Aerosol Jet technology, which in turn enables high resolution deposition of a wide variety of materials including conductive nano-particle inks, insulators, dielectrics, polymers, adhesives and other advanced materials. The system can print onto a wide variety of flexible and rigid substrates.

Despite the US launch today, a number of customers in Asia, including a leading industrial electronics research institute and a leading touch screen company, have already purchased and taken delivery of their Aerosol Jet Display Lab systems, which are being used to develop applications such as bridge/jumper circuits for bus lines on ITO/Glass, edge circuits for handheld displays, and fully printed Thin Film Transistors.

According to Optomec, the benefits of the Aerosol Jet Direct Write technology are the multi-material, fine line (<10 um) printing capability which eliminates many process steps/costs associated with current photolithographic and vacuum based display manufacturing processes. Also, the Aerosol Jet Print Engine can be integrated into automation platforms to meet high volume display production requirements. Multi-nozzle dispensing heads can be configured to meet specific end-user throughput needs. The additive process employed by Aerosol Jet technology reduces environmental impact by minimizing waste and chemicals that are prevalent in traditional electronics’ manufacturing processes.

The company has released a huge amount of information — with very little fanfare — all of which has even greater implications for future development.

The things that really stand out for me are:

• the high resolution deposition of nano-particles
• companies in the middle East are already using the systems
• multi-material deposition
• < 10 ┬Ám printing capability.
• and last, but by no means least, the system was developed for a specific application, and Optomec launch direct to its target market at FlexTech, an event dedicated to flexible technology for electronics and displays.

Basically, when a company bylines itself as "the world-leading provider of additive manufacturing systems for high-performance applications" my instinctive response is, 'yeah, yeah, you and every other AM vendor'. In this instance though, with a significant and very noticeable lack of hype around the company, I am inclined to agree that Optomec is making huge strides that are ahead of the game.


[NB: I have absolutely no commercial / financial interests in Optomec or associated companies.]

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