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CONSUMER ELECTRONICS & SMART LABELS

10

No 18 | March 2017 |

OPE

journal

Analytical testing: Many advanced

electronics films combine multiple func-

tionality in one film construction, including

thermoset adhesive films; membranes for

haptic, acoustic and vibration dampening

applications; multi-layer composites with

optical, electrical and mechanical properties;

and optically clear adhesives. These films

must be designed and tested to ensure the

favourable properties of each function are

maintained as additional layers are coated or

laminated onto the construction. To accom-

plish this, advanced testing and analytical

techniques are required from product design

and scale-up through commercialisation

and finished product testing of every part.

Coating scientists focus on three

main areas to ensure impeccable qual-

ity of finished materials: raw materi-

als’ incoming quality control (RM IQC),

materials characterisation and quality

assurance. All three functions are inter-

connected and performed throughout

the product development process.

Chemists design unique methods to

enable analytical quantification of key

quality requirements for a variety of custom

electronics products. Optical image analysis

techniques are frequently adapted to ana-

lyse product images for particle size, number

of particles, circularity and other values.

Additional quality testing metrics for elec-

tronics film products include haze, transmis-

sion, film thickness, uniformity, optical clarity

and density, colour, index of refraction,

reflectivity and opacity – to name just a few.

Each factor plays a critical role in meeting

specified characteristics and performance

stipulations on a product-by-product basis.

Testing equipment enables the evalu-

ation of an immense range of material

properties with precision. For example,

interferometers, X-ray fluorescence (XRF),

micrometers, gravimetric analysis and cross-

sections are used to measure coating thick-

ness. Optical properties are analysed with

HazeGard for haze, transmission and clarity.

Additionally Fourier transform infrared

spectroscopy (FTIR) and scanning electron

microscopy (SEM) are used for organic and

elemental analysis. SEM can also be used

for high-resolution imaging to assess film

morphology and its impact on performance.

Clean-room practices: To meet the

stringent optical and cosmetic requirements

of electronics films, clean-room production

areas are a must. Materials produced in

Class 100 clean rooms during all produc-

tion phases prevent the introduction of

contaminants that can affect quality and

clarity. In addition, it is important that

incoming raw materials and packaging

materials are designed to prevent con-

tamination of the product. Clean-room

practices keep point defects, debris and

imperfections to a minimum – resulting

in higher yields for electronics films and

other advanced materials applications.

Conclusion

In closing, contract-coating manufac-

turers with established coating processes

and experience with the unique demands

of electronics applications can readily

apply their existing process tools to a

wide variety of electronics products. By

utilising a contract manufacturer’s proven

coating methodologies and advanced

rapid prototyping capabilities, customers

can dramatically change manufactur-

ing design processes and reduce cost of

manufacturing. The result is more efficient

and economical scale-up of electronics

products from benchtop to production.

Contract manufacturers provide expert staff for process design, commercialisation and rigorous quality system implementation