03 May 2021
Eindhoven Engine unlocks ‘smartest region’s collective intelligence
- Digital technologies
Digital Printing is a printing process in which there is no contact between the printing system and substrate in order to deposit ink or a material. By using advanced inkjet technology, verysimilar to the technology in the inkjet printer at home, Digital Printing not only matches traditional printing in efficiency, it allows for an amazing range of exciting possibilities for both production and customization. NTS has been working at the cutting edge of Digital Printing for 25 years and is now working with clients and partners on applying this technology at an industrial scale. In this it distinguishes: graphical printing, functional printing and 3D/ Additive Manufacturing:
By digitally printing on packaging, textiles or any other shape or medium it is possible to create variation and allow for personalisation that was unfathomable only decades ago.
Printing a material that has a functional property directly onto a substrate that allows for new functionality and even completely new products such as a phone’s touch screen or foldable TV-screens. Examples range from touch screens and integrated RFID chips to heartrate measuring T-shirts and lenses with integrated displays. By printing functional properties directly to a substrate, it is possible to create entirely new products.
Creating a physical object from a digital design by adding one thin layer at a time. This allows for unique shapes and one of a kind production of products of any kind of material most commonly metals or plastics.
“The challenge is often not to think of new products,” Shahzad says. “It’s whether you are able to manufacture those products at scale, so that people can actually afford them. And ink generally determines cost, especially with printed electronics where inks are very expensive. The amazing thing about inkjet printing technology is that you control every single droplet of it using DoD (Drop on Demand) print heads.”
“So, now that we can largely eliminate the waste of ink, what else can we do to improve efficiency? Well, by increasing speed while maintaining accuracy or quality. Currently, for me, the A-level in printed electronics is 200,000 square meters a year, with nanometre thickness and micrometre inter-product overlay. That means it’s commercially viable and we already have several manufacturing processes running at that level.”
"Digital printing is an enormously interesting and challenging field. If you are talking about digital printing in the high-tech industry, it is justified to talk about a development that is still in its infancy. The printing of esthetic and functional layers offers a wide variety of application possibilities for various sectors. The same applies to all kinds of 3D printing applications. In practice however, you'll see these kind of new and promising applications still sparsely find their way to the market. In this respect, we are only at the beginning of the digital printing revolution."
The formability of 3D printing means there are fewer design constraints. This makes it easier to produce small series. It also brings along new possibilities to combine new materials and combinations of materials. Moreover, production can take place closer to the end-consumers or OEM. This will eventually lead to efficiency in logistics. In short: from the world of printing we are gradually moving towards a printed world. Additive manufacturing is a game-changing technology in all fields that will have an enormous impact on future industry.