Clemson Printed Electronics 101

Clemson's Sonoco Institute Offers Opportunities for PE

Clemson’s Sonoco Institute Offers Opportunities for PE

By David Savastano

It is clear that universities are, in many cases, taking on a lead role in printed electronics (PE), with quite a few successful start-ups emerging out of university spin-outs.

However, major universities are also taking on other roles, including general research as well as educating potential manufacturers and suppliers. For example, a number of universities that have specialized in graphic arts are utilizing their skills and expertise in the area of printed electronics.

One such example is Clemson University, located in Clemson, SC. In 2004, Clemson came up with the idea of creating a state-of-the-art packaging facility to bring together the strengths of its Graphic Communications and Packaging Science departments. In 2009, the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design & Graphics was launched.

The initial idea for The Sonoco Institute was to emphasize packaging design, but there is much more to design than just appearance and basic structure, according to Chip Tonkin, director of the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design & Graphics.

“‘Packaging Design’ incorporates much more than the structural and aesthetic elements that typically come to mind – done properly, this process should incorporate a wide range of disciplines including material properties, structural attributes, environmental sciences, manufacturing, marketing and psychology, ” said Tonkin. “As this became apparent, our mission broadened into something that will have a much greater impact.”

With its extensive capabilities, the Sonoco Institute is fulfilling its educational objectives while providing training and developing new technologies for the field of packaging.

“The goal is to leverage our core campus strengths along with the knowledge and participation of our industry partners to make significant contributions at three levels – as an academic stimulator, an industry resource for training and research, and a driving force to bring new technologies and innovations to the packaging and graphics markets, ” Tonkin noted. “The process of formalizing these goals, building a facility and marshaling the appropriate resources went quickly.”

When the Sonoco Institute opened in 2009, it was clear that printed electronics has a place in packaging design, and the Sonoco Institute incorporated printed electronics into its educational curriculum. In terms of PE, the Sonoco Institute is focused on the commercial optimization and deposition of advanced materials on flexible substrates, with an eye on the growing interest in smart packaging.

“We leverage our expertise in traditional package printing technology with our industry network for discovery, benchmarking and utilization in the broad field of printed electronics, ” Jay Sperry, research associate at the Sonoco Institute, said. “Because of our packaging focus, obviously applications such as smart packaging and advancing the interaction of packaging within retail environments are of particular interest. We look at markets where layering and device material characteristic requirements are ripe for manufacturing with today’s printing capabilities such as lighting, photovoltaics, batteries and sensors. In tandem, we also provide an environment for advanced printing and coating research to elevate manufacturing capabilities to enable more precise devices and applications for printed electronics.”

The Sonoco Institute brings a wealth of expertise in many key aspects of the PE industry, including its partners and faculty members. Because of its extensive connections through the entire packaging supply chain, Tonkin said that the Institute’s real value lies in its ability to pull together collaborators across many vertical and horizontal markets, extending from the raw material and equipment suppliers, the printers and converters, the marketing and creative agencies, all the way through to the consumer products companies. See also:
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What 3D printing means for China

by gnostic2012


September 27, 2013
Marcus Chan
In June, the South China Morning Post reported billionaire Terry Gou called the printing technology "a gimmick".
You might expect that from the founder of the world's largest contract manufacturer of electronics, the Foxconn Technology's Hon Hai Precision Industry, which has huge factories in China.
The company didn't respond to a request for comment.
To get another view of the potential impact on China, I caught up last week with 3D printing pioneer Scott Crump, the co-founder and chairman of Stratasys

I havn't heard of wax, but there are chocolate

by Geometree

Printers. Personal 3D printers tend to be open source so you might be able to alter one to do wax-printing.
I think the electronics are quite programmable.
The plastic printers constantly feed a strand of plastic into a heated printhead. The strand rolls off a spool. Maybe you could replace the spool with a hot container of liquid wax feeding to the printhead.
What are you wanting to print in wax?

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