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October 1, 2018

Graphene Inks are Transforming the Printed Electronics Industry

Printed electronics is the method used to produce electrical devices on a variety of substrates. Devices like wearable technology, keyboards, antennas, medical devices, touch screens, solar cells, smart product packaging, and more all use printed electronics. As the popularity for these tech products and others increases, so too will the need for printed electronics manufacturing.

To keep up with this high demand, manufacturers in the technology industry are turning to inkjet printing to quickly and inexpensively print electrical circuits that live in devices like smart watches and solar panels. With inkjet printing, manufacturers are relying on the use of conductive inks to help provide an array of benefits that other inks don’t offer.

 

The Benefits of Graphene Ink

Graphene is widely-recognized as the strongest material on Earth and is known to be approximately 200 times stronger than steel. Aside from strength and durability, graphene is also a great conductor of electricity and heat, making it ideal for use in electronics.

Graphene is an atomic scale hexagonal lattice made of carbon atoms.

Graphene is composed of carbon atoms that form a hexagonal lattice.

Graphene ink is a type of conductive ink that is created by infusing graphite directly into ink. Generally, graphene ink needs to be specially formulated depending on the substrate and printing method used. Due to its compatibility with a wide range of materials, it’s commonly used with piezoelectric inkjet printing, but can also be used for gravure and flexographic printing. With graphic ink, manufacturers can experience a plethora of additional benefits, like:

  • Enhanced electrical conductivity
  • High-speed printing capabilities
  • Flexibility
  • Long-lasting durability
  • Optical transparency
  • Lower costs

 

The Future of Printed Electronics Is Bright

The printed electronics electronics industry is continuing to grow rapidly as we begin to figure out new uses for it. For example, in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, athletes from the USA wore red, white, and blue Ralph Lauren jackets that featured printed electronics heaters designed by Butler Technologies that were printed into the shape of the American flag and used conductive inks to help keep the athletes warm in extremely cold conditions. The jackets provided approximately 11 hours of warmth, which was crucial considering the average temperature was 15°F in PyeongChang during the Winter Olympics.

Other developing technological advancements using printed electronics appear to be on the horizon as well.

Dr. Daniel Harrison, SVP of Research and Development at IIMAK said that, “Labels with printed sensors and means to report environmental and location information are not far away. Smart shelf talkers will be enabled with printed electronics to provide customers with detailed information to aid in their purchases.”

With more possibilities for printed electronics developing every day, the need for conductive inks like graphene and carbon ink will only increase. Inkjet will continue to play a vital role in the future of the printed electronics industry, and the two should mutually benefit one another.

For any ink or inkjet printing related questions, reach out to our team of ink experts.

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