Neotech AMT and University of Hamburg successfully develop AI driven quality assurance for fully additive 3D printed electronics


Neotech AMT (Nuremberg, Germany) and the TAMS-group at the University of Hamburg have successfully implemented a camera-based monitoring system for additively manufactured objects with integrated electronics (Project: KAM EI). The project, funded by Central Innovation Programme for SMEs (ZIM) from the German Federal Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), started in September 2020. The Automated Quality Assurance (AQA) system has been developed to monitor the manufacturing processes online in the 5-axis manufacturing cell.

The AQA system records and classifies the manufacturing process and automatically corrects processing errors, dependent on type. A vision system records the printed electrical structures in 3D space with the images being compiled, compensating for optical distortion and depth of field elements. The printed tracks are then recognised by means of image processing, using artificial intelligence (AI) to check for potential defects. If a defect is identified the system automatically corrects it.  With this feedback, the printing process of the conductive tracks becomes a closed-loop system. Furthermore, the data generated by the system are archived for documentation. In this way, a contribution can be made to support certification processes in critical applications.

Dr Martin Hedges, Managing Director of Neotech AMT, says: “This exciting development opens the way for guaranteed QA and traceability in “fully additive” 3D Printed Electronics whilst also increasing product yields. The risk of defects only being discovered after lengthy manufacturing processes is mitigated and autocorrection will bring yield losses to an absolute minimum.”

Daniel Ahlers from University Hamburg says: “This project is an important step towards closed loop control for hybrid manufacturing processes. The developed system can work with a variety of substrate types and has shown segmentation accuracy over 99%, even with limited training data.  Successful active process monitoring is a core aspect to enable reliable and scalable manufacturing of highly integrated, smart products.”

Neotech AMT GmbH is a leading company developing manufacturing technologies for 3D Printed Electronics (3D PE). The company has been pioneering developments in this emerging market since 2009, delivering production level and R&D solutions to customers globally in mobile communications, automotive, wearables and medical markets.

Caption: An electric circuit with deliberate randomised breaks and a repaired circuit (photo: Neotech AMT)

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