Since its inception eight years ago, the IVAM event series ΣYSTEMS INTEGRATION has given manufacturers and users of microtechnology an opportunity to share their ideas on the intelligent application of MST solutions. On June 9-10, 2015, the renowned symposium was held in Oulu in the north of Finland to discuss “Printed Electronics”, “Printed Diagnostics” and “3D Printing”.
VTT – Technical Research Centre of Finland acted as the partner and host for the 2015 event. VTT and its network PrintoCent constitute Europe’s biggest focal point for research institutes and businesses with operations in the relevant fields. As part of the Finnish “PRITNED SUPER WEEK”, ΣYSTEMS INTEGRATION was embedded in diverse start-up and networking events with “Printed Electronics” as their topic.
Nokia shaped Northern Finland
ΣYSTEMS INTEGRATION began with company visits in Oulu. The first trip led to FocalSpec who have developed optical methods and devices for surface topography measuring, especially in electronic components. How much of an impact Nokia’s early operations have had on Oulu’s business landscape becomes abundantly clear. Ginolis, for example, evolved from JOT, former prime machinery manufacturer for Nokia’s production facilities.
Today, Ginolis focuses on the manufacture of Point-of-Care (POC) diagnostics. A combination of microfluidics, chemistry, electronics and printing technology enables Screentec to deliver new and interesting products, such as single-use medical products or environmental sensors, all manufactured using silkscreen printing processes. Closing the tour, Tactotec showed how far the evolution of printing technology has come already: printed sensors, LEDs and circuitry, all shaped and integrated in injection molded plastic housings. Any structure is easily shapeable, shock proof and aesthetically appealing.
Presentation program shows opportunities and room to improve
During the conference program on day two, presentations and workshops explored the different aspects of the new technologies. Dr. Kari Rönkä presented the capabilities of VTT, especially in tandem with its network PrintoCent. The network offers development and prototyping of products, from OLED, organic photovoltaics, microfluidics, printed transistors and bio batteries to sensors, utilizing all available printing technologies.
Especially the mass production capabilities of technologies like the roll-to-roll (R2R) process proved impressive. The presentations showed the diverse possibilities of modern printing technologies. In medical technology, for example, orthopedic sensors for measuring foot pressure strain during leg injury rehabilitation proved to be an exciting prospect.
Jaakko Raukola of KeepLoop presented another fascinating application: utilizing a simple, very small set of lenses, it is possible to transfer images to smartphones – fifty times enlarged. Fraunhofer ENAS showcased printed antenna structures capable of automatically opening parking lot gates or garages from inside the car. However, there is always room for improvement, as shown in the presentation of Dr. Tapio Fabritius of the University of Oulu. He focused primarily on the development and measuring of features of printing materials, fluids and inks.
The convention clearly showed that 3D printing in conjunction with Printed Electronics will constitute a major stepping stone on the way to “Smart Produciton”. The new technologies will soon be capable of manufacturing any arbitrary custom products without long development periods, at a reasonable cost even in small batches.
Following the event, all participants agreed that contacts between members of IVAM and VTT/PrintoCent need to be intensified and expanded. At this year’s COMPAMED in November, IVAM will once again organize the IVAM joint booth with the focus on “Printed Electronics”, where Finnish and German companies have the opportunity to showcase their products for medical technology.
Mona Okroy-Hellweg | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
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