Continental and Henkel conclude cooperation agreement for printed electronics

From left: Dr Paolo Bavaj, corporate director, New Business Development, Henkel, Armin Senne, flexo business manager at ContiTech, and Dr Thomas Perković, head of printing blanket segment at ContiTech

Henkel Adhesive Technologies from Düsseldorf, Germany, and ContiTech Elastomer Coatings (Hannover, Germany) will now be working more closely together in the fields of functional printing and printed electronics. The two companies made an announcement concerning the agreement in question at the printing trade show drupa in Düsseldorf. The aim is to develop products that can be produced using cost-effective roll-to-roll processing in flexographic and other printing processes. This includes industrial applications such as sensors, heating, speakers, and functional films, as well as security applications for consumer goods (tracking and identification using RFID, radio-frequency identification, for example), or intelligent packaging with additional NFC (near field communication) functions.

"We will bring our experience of the printing process, Henkel its material expertise in functional inks and substances," says Dr Thomas Perković, head of the Printing Blanket segment at ContiTech, a division of technology company Continental. "Printed electronics are an important area not only for our customers, but also for Continental and its products for the automotive industry."  

"Together we want to develop the up-and-coming functional printing and printed electronics markets and create an alternative to the existing manufacturing process," says Dr Paolo Bavaj, corporate director, New Business Development Adhesive Technologies at Henkel. "Our contribution to this is our wide-ranging, high-performance portfolio of conductive inks. In particular, intelligent packaging that, for example, uses NFC technology to provide customers with additional information is of huge interest to Henkel for its consumer goods. We are excited to be working closely with Continental because we believe that meaningful innovation is only possible through strong partnerships and within innovation ecosystems."

Until a few years ago, flexographic printing plates were not sufficiently precise or durable enough for the demands of the printed electronics (PE) segment. Only direct engraving with elastomers and new laser sources such as fiber lasers or laser diodes has made it possible to print the required structures consistently, reproducibly, and efficiently. The established roll-to-roll (R2R) flexographic printing process, with its comparatively high printing speeds, also makes the production of printed products more cost-efficient.

The Laserline printing plates made from compressible elastomers developed by ContiTech offer significant advantages as they do not damage or destroy sensitive substrates such as vaporised foils or silicon wafers with excessive contact pressure during printing. The environment benefits too: "Elastomer flexographic printing plates are by far the most sustainably produced printing plates on the market," says Armin Senne, flexo business manager at ContiTech. "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."

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