Expanding Horizons: The Various Applications of Thick-Film Technology


Sensors created with thick-film technology

For decades, thick-film technology has proven its reliability and cost-efficiency in crafting dependable electronic circuitry and components. Initially applied in hybrid microelectronics for military and aerospace purposes, it has also been a staple for passive components. Its additive process, involving screen-printed and fired conductor, resistor, and dielectric pastes, fosters cost-effective manufacturing with design flexibility. Today's electronics trends encompass miniaturization, adaptable substrates, and eco-friendly considerations like RoHS and REACH compliance. Thick film adapts to these demands and finds new roles.

In the 5G era, thick-film's highly conductive silver coatings serve low-loss signal filters. Automotive innovation leverages thick-film for ADAS sensors, heaters, and battery management in electric vehicles. Polymer thick-film (PTF) on temperature-sensitive polymers is used in keypads and emerging applications, like flexible displays and medical monitoring. As technology evolves, thick-film's adaptability remains its hallmark, powering progress in diverse domains.

Examples where thick-film technologies might be implicated:

Automotive Innovation

The automotive sector, a hub of innovation, reaps substantial benefits from the diverse capabilities of thick-film technology. The crucial role of thick-film heaters in enhancing cabin comfort, defogging rear windows, and ensuring sensor functionality in extreme cold conditions underscores its significance. In electric vehicles (EVs), thick-film heaters play a pivotal role in optimizing battery performance and safeguarding driver assistance sensors, including lane departure warnings and blind spot monitoring. These sensors, crucial for vehicle safety and autonomy, are brought to life by the versatile potential of thick-film technology.

We offer equipment for15-micron lines and 20-micron spaces; suitable for RF & Microwave applications (up to 200GHz reported).

Empowering Communications

The dawn of 5G telecommunications heralds a new era of connectivity, demanding low-loss signal filters with unmatched precision. Here, thick-film technology rises to prominence with its highly conductive silver coatings, perfectly aligned with the stringent requirements of high-frequency communication. Further, thick-film technology's prowess extends to low-temperature co-fired ceramics (LTCC), pivotal for the unfolding of 6G communications and the realization of emerging technologies.

Powering Renewable Energy

Renewable energy, particularly solar power, is a central focus in the quest for sustainability. Thick-film silver conductors shine as indispensable front-side contact fingers on solar cells. Additionally, copper-based thick-film technology emerges as a cost-effective and technologically viable alternative to direct copper bonded substrates (DCB), supporting power electronic substrates and contributing to clean energy generation.

Solar CellsPicture Source: www.nrel.gov

Advancing Healthcare and Diagnostics

The impact of thick-film technology resonates in the healthcare sector, playing a critical role in essential applications like glucose testing. Thick-film silver-silver chloride and carbon-graphite pastes are instrumental in the creation of electrochemical glucose strips, pivotal for glucose monitoring devices. Polymer thick-film materials seamlessly integrate into wearable skin patches and smart clothing, opening pathways for medical and athletic monitoring without compromising electrical performance.

Enabling Smart Packaging and IoT

Thick-film technology's unparalleled versatility extends to smart packaging, propelling innovations like prescription reminders, freshness indicators, and temperature-sensitive labels. This innovation also powers temperature-controlled films, revolutionizing the coordination of shipping logistics for temperature-sensitive goods. Furthermore, thick-film technology finds expression in RFID tags and sensors, rendering packaging intelligent and enhancing inventory control.

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Conclusion

In an era of seismic technological shifts, thick-film technology remains a steadfast cornerstone of the electronics industry. Its reach spans across diverse domains, from revolutionary automotive advancements and seamless communications to transformative renewable energy initiatives, medical breakthroughs, and ingenious smart packaging solutions.

Proudly contributing to this technology, THT offers two essential equipment options for furthering its applications:

Belt Furnace Offering:
  • Capable of achieving a maximum temperature rating of 1100C
  • Equipped with independent over-temperature control in each zone
  • Ensures 1C cross belt uniformity
  • Provides 1C PID control precision
  • Incorporates special fully enclosed coil heaters and optimized heater layout for optimal thermal performance.

Photoimageable Process Offering:
  • Enables the creation of 15-micron lines and 20-micron spaces with high yield on standard ceramic substrates
  • Suitable for RF & Microwave applications (up to 200GHz reported)
  • Supports sensor elements with narrow conductors and windows in dielectric and MEMS structures
  • Facilitates the production of components like fuses and MLCI chip inductors
  • Enables plasma displays and RF shielding on glass surface

If you want to learn more about our belt furnace, thick film product line, GTMS, LTCC and more, contact us for more information!