Printable Circuits by PragmatIC Changing the IoT Future

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pragmatic-technologyPragmatIC is a world leader in manufacturing ultra low cost flexible electronics enabling the potential for trillions of “smart objects” that can interact with their environment.

It has developed a unique platform of patented technologies to design and manufacture flexible integrated circuits (flexICs), also known as “printed logic”.
These flexICs deliver intelligent electronics without the need for rigid, bulky and expensive silicon chips and can be easily embedded in any surface, introducing interactivity into a wide range of everyday items.

PragmatIC’s unique advantage derives from several key innovations:

  • Functional electronic materials that are much cheaper than silicon, and able to be formed on flexible plastic substrates in extremely thin films – less than 100 nm thick, about 1000 times thinner than a human hair!
  • Patterning processes that are able to accurately define features in these thin film materials, also at very fine scale (less than 100 nm), but are dramatically simpler and faster than the processes used in an expensive silicon fabrication plant.
  • Novel architectures for transistors (and other key electronic devices) that ensure perfect alignment of all critical device features, even when fabricated on plastic substrates that expand, contract or move during processing.

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Now PragmatIC is developing FlexLogIC: a unique “fab-in-a-box” model for low capital, high capacity manufacturing of flexICs. This model will allow PragmatIC to scale up production capacity dramatically, and specifically to do so with a very low capital cost and per-unit production cost, as well as automating the complete process to allow it to sell this equipment to supply chain partners.

“We incorporated the processes that we developed for our ICs and created the FlexLogIC system to manufacture our products” PragmatIC CEO Scott White said. “FlexLogIC incorporates a mix of printing and conventional techniques that deliver the optimum process for each step of production, along with full automation of the end-to-end manufacturing process.”

 

Concept drawing of FlexLogIC system
Concept drawing of FlexLogIC system

FlexLogIC offers important advantages, beginning with its high capacity that can produce billions of flexible ICs. There is a low up-front capital cost that White said is 100 to 1000 times less than a silicon fab, and a low production cost of less than 1 cent per flexIC for typical applications!

FlexLogIC production costs vs Silicon
FlexLogIC production costs vs Silicon

In addition, FlexLogIC will offer a fast production cycle time of less than 24 hours versus typically more than one month for a silicon fab, allows modular scalability of capacity in geographically diverse supply chains and also allows non-electronics companies the capability to integrate manufacturing of intelligent flexible electronics.

“One of the most compelling aspects of our flexIC production process is the potential for it to be implemented in a self-contained, fully automated manufacturing system,” White added. “It has many similarities with the production of optical discs, which several decades ago migrated very successfully from batch production in a cleanroom to this type of modular manufacturing equipment.”

The company promises that its technology will change the game for IoT and will, according to Mike Muller, CTO of ARM, “open up a whole new world of computing”.
It has attracted funding of £18 million (UK Pounds) to take the technology to production readiness.  As shown in the timeline, the first FlexLogIC production system will be installed in 2017 in order to support mass-market applications by 2018.

timeline

More details and updates about this project can be reached at flexlogic.systems and www.pragmaticprinting.com

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