Printed electronics standards initiative starts with substrate materials

July 20, 2012 — IPC — Association Connecting Electronics Industries and JPCA (Japan Electronics Packaging and Circuits Association) released their first operational-level standard for the printed electronics industry, IPC/JPCA-4921, Requirements for Printed Electronics Base Materials (Substrates). The standard defines terms and establishes basic requirements for substrate materials used in printed electronics: ceramic, organic, metal, glass and other.

Printed electronics is still in its infancy, with commercialization spurts and lacking standard manufacturing practices. Printed electronics are generally made with long-established technologies combined with recent innovations, IPC and JPCA point out. Electronics can be printed on diverse materials, which both opens new opportunities and limits growth/targeted development programs. “It’s difficult to grasp the breadth of opportunities when a range of materials can be printed onto various substrates to produce from very simple electronic circuits to the highly complex,” said IPC Director of Technology Transfer Marc Carter.

For this technology to become a stand-alone industry, it must have some commonalities that help build a structure, said Carter. The standard aims to provide a common language for designers, equipment makers and manufacturers.

Individuals who have worked with flexible circuits are most likely to feel the most familiar with details in IPC/JPCA-4921, but they will also find a number of significant differences. “Some of the materials are similar or the same, but people are leveraging different intrinsic materials attributes to enable novel applications,” adds Carter.

Printed electronics are being developed for different tasks: the inner layers of a circuit board, printed electronic active components, advanced automotive applications, and low-cost displays for portable computing and mobile applications, among other applications.

IPC/JPCA-4921 provides a starting point for IPC’s Printed Electronics Initiative to establish a critical segment of the infrastructure that will help the industry expand more quickly. This initiative includes a dedicated management council for companies to discuss issues and to help develop tools and studies; a printed electronics conference track and exhibition area at IPC APEX EXPO 2013; and more industry standards, in continued partnership with JPCA.

Because the printed electronics industry is growing and evolving rapidly, IPC/JPCA-4921 may have to be updated at a more frequent pace than other industry standards.

IPC members may request a single-user download of IPC/JPCA-4921 by sending an e-mail to MemberTechRequests@ipc.org, free when requested within 90 days of the document’s publication. For more information, visit www.ipc.org/4921.

IPC is a global industry association dedicated to the competitive excellence and financial success of member companies which represent all facets of the electronics industry, including design, printed board manufacturing, electronics assembly and test. Learn more at www.IPC.org.

JPCA is a Tokyo-based trade association serving about 400 member companies in the electronic circuits industries. JPCA supports the industries through global trade shows, including JPCA Show, Large Electronics Show, Microelectronics Show and JISSO PROTEC; industry standards; management programs; market/statistics/technology research; and environment/ foreign trade/government relations programs. JPCA works cooperatively with other organizations of the World Electronic Circuits Council (WECC), including more than 40 years of friendship with IPC; Japan-China Relationship Council under JPCA/CPCA; MOU of JPCA/KPCA and JPCA/TPCA. Internet: www.jpca.org.

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