ENABLING FLEXIBLE INTEGRATED CIRCUITS
PragmatIC is a world leader in ultra low cost flexible electronics, enabling the potential for trillions of “smart objects” that can sense and communicate with their environment.
PragmatIC’s unique technology platform enables flexible integrated circuits (flexICs) thinner than a human hair that can be easily embedded in any surface, introducing interactivity into a wide range of everyday items.
At a fraction of the price of conventional silicon ICs, PragmatIC’s products enable a vast range of new applications: from intelligent packaging of fast-moving consumer goods, to wireless traceability of documents for security and identification.
Now PragmatIC is developing FlexLogIC: a unique “fab-in-a-box” model for low capital, high capacity manufacturing of flexICs.
While the traditional silicon industry is oriented towards delivering highly complex electronic products, FlexLogIC provides a radically different approach aligned to the mass-market volumes and low cost requirements of embedding flexible electronics in everyday objects.
HIGH CAPACITY WITH LOW UPFRONT INVESTMENT
Establishing new silicon IC fabrication capacity requires extensive capital outlay, in the billions of dollars per fab. It is also a time consuming process, typically requiring at least 2 years to build and commission a fab. Ramping up global capacity for trillions of smart objects using a conventional silicon IC foundry model would therefore be both cost prohibitive and high risk.
FlexLogIC addresses this manufacturing gap since the upfront investment costs are several orders of magnitude lower: between 100 and 1000 times lower capital expense than a silicon IC fab of a similar capacity. FlexLogIC systems can also be delivered more rapidly on a build-to-order basis under six months.
This dramatic reduction in both cost and time opens up the potential for highly scalable flexIC capacity, and enables a more distributed production model. Compared with silicon ICs, where a few very large foundry companies produce most of the world’s supply, the FlexLogIC model can support a large number of manufacturers across multiple application sectors, geographies and industry supply chains.
FULLY AUTOMATED SELF-CONTAINED PRODUCTION
As well as enabling a shift to more distributed regional manufacturing, FlexLogIC also opens up the potential for non-electronics companies to become active participants in the supply chain for flexible electronic solutions.
Whereas silicon IC fabs require extremely sophisticated operational expertise in relevant process technologies, the fully automated nature of FlexLogIC means that it can be operated by companies with a comparatively low level of electronics expertise. The detailed material recipes, end-to-end process flow, in-line quality monitoring and feedback control loops are implemented within the equipment and software design, to ensure reliable production without operator intervention.
The physical footprint of FlexLogIC is also significantly smaller than a conventional silicon fab, and it’s self-contained nature allows installation in a wide range of manufacturing environments – for example, at front-of-line in label and packaging facilities, providing on-site just-in-time flexIC production and eliminating months’ worth of supply chain inventory.
FlexLogIC production cycle time is under a day, compared with over a month for a silicon fab. The upfront design costs are also orders of magnitudes lower, meaning that new flexible electronic solutions can be developed, tested, and rolled out on shortened timescales and with dramatically reduced risk.
When combined with on-site integration into the downstream manufacturing supply chain, this enables a radically new model for the rapid introduction of electronics into smart objects.
ELECTRONICS FOR A FLEXIBLE WORLD…
In summary, FlexLogIC delivers mass-market flexIC manufacturing capability, with very low upfront capital investment requirements, suitable for installation and operation in a diverse and distributed range of supply chain environments. This dramatically reduces the cost of scaling flexible electronics capacity compared with conventional silicon and reduces time-to-market. It enables a more responsive electronics supply chain structure, providing a natural fit with the existing geographically distributed production model of key target markets such as labels and packaging for fast moving consumer goods.
Downloads: FlexLogIC leaflet and introductory presentation
For more information see www.pragmaticprinting.com
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 726029.