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Epson unveils ultra-thin 20-layer circuit board

Posted: 03 Nov 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:seiko epson? 20-layer circuit board?

Seiko Epson Corp. announced that it has succeeded in leveraging its proprietary inkjet technology to develop what the company believes is the world's first ultra-thin 20-layer circuit board.

Multilayer circuit boards are normally produced by using a photolithography process to pattern a copper foil bonded to a base board, Epson said. However, the company added, the industry has struggled to produce thin, lightweight, high-density multilayer circuit boards cheaply because the traditional process requires thick copper layers; the creation of a different photomask for each layer; a complex step for forming through-holes to electrically connect different layers; and a large volume of photoresist, developer, etchants, stripping agents and other chemicals.

The use of inkjet technology

Epson received a grant from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), an independent Japanese governmental agency, to develop technology for fabricating circuit boards using inkjet technology. The goal of the three-year project, which was launched in June 2003, is two-fold: to dramatically reduce the energy consumed in the manufacture of circuit boards; and to fabricate small, lightweight, high-performance circuit boards used in end-products such as information and communications equipment.

The Japan-based company succeeded in producing a 20-layer circuit board sample by using an inkjet system to alternately "draw" patterns and form layers on the board using two types of inka conductive ink containing a dispersion of silver micro-particles measuring from several nanometers to several tens of nanometers in diameter, and a newly developed insulator ink.

According to Epson, an inkjet-based manufacturing process has many advantages over a traditional photolithography process. The new process uses a far lower volume of materials since patterns are formed only in areas where they are needed and not over the entire substrate; it is a dry process so virtually no liquid waste is created; it involves fewer steps and thus consumes comparatively little energy; it is readily adapted to high mix, low volume production since no masks are used; and it is well suited to multilayer structures since interlayers can also be patterned directly onto the board.

An inkjet-based process thus enables low-cost, high-density multilayer circuit boards to be produced via a green manufacturing process with a light environmental load, the company added.

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