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Advanced Manufacture by Screen Printing / SARAH POTTS

Swansea University Author: SARAH POTTS

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DOI (Published version): 10.23889/SUthesis.58460

Abstract

Screen-printing is the most widely used process in printed electronics, due to its ability to transfer materials with a wide range of functional properties at high thickness and solid loading. However, the science of screen printing is still rooted in the graphics era, with limited understanding of...

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Published: Swansea 2021
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: EngD
Supervisor: Claypole, Tim C. ; Phillips, Chris O.
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa58460
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Abstract: Screen-printing is the most widely used process in printed electronics, due to its ability to transfer materials with a wide range of functional properties at high thickness and solid loading. However, the science of screen printing is still rooted in the graphics era, with limited understanding of the fundamental science behind the ink transfer process. A multifaceted approach encompassing all aspects of the production of printed electronics from ink formulation, through screen-printing and post processing was therefore undertaken. With a focus on carbon inks due to their electrical conductivity, low cost, inertness and ability to be modified or functionalised. Parametric studies found that with blade squeegees, lower angles and softer blades led to increases in ink deposition, irrespective of ink rheology. However, the effects of print speed and snap distance were related to the rheology of the inks. Existing computational models were inaccurate and based on two contrasting theories. Extensional CaBER testing provided qualitative indications of the effect of separation speed and distance on deposition. However, this could only assess the effect of vertical, 2-dimensional forces and could not evaluate the influence of shear forces due to separation angle or the effects of the screen mesh. For this purpose, a screen-printing visualisation rig was specifically constructed, allowing the ink transfer mechanism to be captured for the first time. This identified similarities with one of the two theories, although existing models had oversimplified the process and did not account for variations in lengths of the separation regions or the contact angle between the mesh and substrate. It was also found that changes in the ink rheology and parameter settings changes the lengths of these regions, as well as the shape and presence of filaments formed during separation. The parameters of print speed, snap distance, solid loading and ink rheology were assessed and found to affect the mesh/substrate contact time and filamentation behaviour. This had a quantifiable effect on ink deposition, in terms of the amount of ink transfer, roughness and therefore conductivity. Finally, photonic annealing and subsequent compression rolling were found to enhance the conductivity of carbon inks by removing binder between particles and consolidating the ink film, leading to 8 times reduction in resistivity for a graphite-based ink and halving in resistivity for an ink containing a combination of carbon black and graphite, where there was less potential for improvement due to the conductive bridges between the graphite flakes.
Item Description: ORCiD identifier http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0208-2364
Keywords: Materials Engineering, Printed Electronics
College: Faculty of Science and Engineering