Hanover, Germany – ContiTech Elastomer Coatings has entered into a cooperation agreement with Henkel Adhesive Technologies in the fields of functional printing and printing electronics.
The two companies said they will cooperate in the development of products produced using cost effective roll-to-roll processing in flexographic and other printing processes.
That includes industrial applications such as sensors, speakers and functional films, as well as security applications for consumer goods – for example tracking and identification using radio frequency – or intelligent packaging with near field communication functions, ContiTech said.
“Functional printing and printed electronics are definitely growth markets, and one of the main reasons is that the new processing (roll-to-roll) makes the production faster and more cost-efficient,” a ContiTech AG spokeswoman said.
ContiTech Elastomer Coatings – a business within Hanover-based Conti-Tech AG, which is a division of Continental AG – will bring its experience of the printing process to the ongoing project, according to Thomas Perkovic, head of the printing blanket segment at Conti-Tech.
Henkel Adhesive Technologies will contribute its material expertise in functional inks and substances, he said.
“Printed electronics are an important area not only for our customers, but also for Continental and its products for the automotive industry,” he said.
Henkel Adhesive Technologies, one of three businesses units within Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, and ContiTech Elastomer Coatings will work together to create an alternative to the existing manufacturing process in the functional printing and printed electronics markets, said Paolo Bavaj, corporate director, new business development for adhesive technologies at Henkel.
“Our contribution to this is our wide-ranging, high performance portfolio of conductive inks,” he said. “We are excited to be working closely with Continental because we believe meaningful innovation is only possible through strong partnerships and within innovation eco-systems.”
Both firms will focus on developing different products, the ContiTech spokes-woman said.
For example, she said, “packaging with additional functions is not in our product portfolio – but Henkel has it. We concentrate on industrial applications such as sensors, heating systems, speakers or functional films.”
Henkel is particularly interested in the future smart packaging market, the company said.
It already is working to commercialise printed electronics for consumer products, it said.
Until a few years ago, flexographic printing plates were not sufficiently precise or durable enough for demands of the printed electronics segment, according to ContiTech.
Only direct engraving with elastomers and new laser sources such as fibre lasers or laser diodes has made it possible to print materials consistently, reproducibly and efficiently, the company said.
It also noted the established roll-to-roll flexographic printing process, with comparatively high printing speeds, makes production of printed products more cost efficient.
Laserline printing plates, made from compressible elastomers developed by ContiTech, offer advantages because they don't damage or destroy sensitive substrates such as vaporised foils or silicon wafers with excessive contact pressure during the printing process, the company claimed.
There are also environmental benefits with the firm's Laserline plates, said Armin Senne, Flexo business manager for ContiTech.
“Elastomer flexographic printing plates are by far the most sustainably produced printing plates on the market,” he said.
Senne noted that “while photopolymer printing plates expand and volatile components such as plasticisers can possibly remain on the printed media, this doesn't happen with elastomer printing plates.”