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CONSUMER ELECTRONICS & SMART LABELS

8

No 18 | March 2017 |

OPE

journal

T

he market for displays, touchscreens,

and other consumer electronic

devices is constantly evolving due to

the demand for smaller, more powerful,

lower-cost and longer-life products. Part of

the development process for these devices

involves the formulation of very precise

coating and casting materials and tech-

nologies to enable a range of functions.

Precision, multi-layer coating is ideally

suited for many of today’s electronics film

applications as coatings can be applied to

substrates to achieve optical properties or

other attributes in finished products. These

film coatings supply various engineered

properties such as barrier qualities, selec-

tive permeability, reflectivity, conductivity

or other attributes. Advanced coating

materials can also be applied in different

layers, each meeting a unique purpose.

Qualified contract coaters can create multi-

layer, precision structures, with options for

two-sided coating, radiation cure, in-line

inspection and lamination in the same

machine pass to deliver a rapidly growing

variety of electronics products including

transparent conductive films, hard-coated

optical films, optically clear adhesives,

photoresist films, and barrier films.

Working with a

qualified coating partner

Developing and manufacturing electron-

ics films requires a coating partner with

extensive materials and process expertise,

strict project management and quality

controls, and the tools to bring leading

edge, precision-coated products to market.

Contract manufacturers with experience

developing advanced coatings can help

determine the proper formulation, estimate

development timeline and implement

rapid prototyping methods to efficiently

scale-up to production. A well-conceived

prototyping process can enable companies

to notice design errors and other issues

that could later cause significant prob-

lems – ultimately saving time and money.

When working with a coating partner,

begin by discussing new product concepts

early in the development stage when

coating formulations, coating methods

and product structures can be modified at

lower cost and minimal schedule impact.

The contract coater should offer concrete

strategies to improve economics and to

make the process more robust, while

meeting or exceeding quality needs.

Once the application is discussed, the

contract coater will generally outline a

process involving benchwork, pilot test-

ing and full-scale production trials, and

will estimate the development timeline

and costs. In the benchwork phase, the

contract coater’s technical team will apply

knowledge of solution properties such as

rheology, and substrate attributes like sur-

face energy, to determine optimal coating

methods and conduct small-sample testing.

This step culminates in a go/no-go decision

and an initial project plan outlining fluids

and coating technologies for evaluation.

A variety of inspection techniques, including optical microscopy, microtome cross-sectioning and

SEM imaging with elemental analysis, allow quick identification of defects

Precise contract coating

for consumer electronics

applications

Brian Pahl, business development manager, and Corinne Ladous, technical account

manager at Carestream Contract Manufacturing (White City, Oregon) discuss

working with a contract coater to manufacture advanced electronic films