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Improving Sustainability with Printed Electronics and Roll-to-roll Manufacturing

Sustainability within manufacturing is not a trend. It’s no longer a siloed initiative. It’s an evolving mindset ingrained in the entire operation – from what you make to how you make it.

While there are many aspects of sustainability strategy, we often encourage clients to zero in on solutions that not only reduce their environmental impact but also optimize production speed and cost. An example of how you can do both is by using roll-to-roll manufacturing for printed electronics.

Why printed Electronics are More Sustainable

Let’s begin by exploring why printed electronics, including flexible hybrid electronics (FHE), are more environmentally friendly than traditional printed circuit boards (PCBs).

First, printed electronics utilize an additive process rather than the retractive process of PCBs. This significantly reduces material usage, waste, and the use of harsh chemicals and solvents.

Second, printed electronics allow devices to be smaller and lighter. With FHEs, designers can reduce the number of rigid components without sacrificing power or functionality. A more compact form factor reduces packaging and decreases transportation emissions.

What is roll-to-roll manufacturing

Roll-to-roll manufacturing (R2R) is a high-speed, high-volume process for custom converting. Rolls (also known as webs) move through various stations, such as printing, cutting, slitting, and laminating. The continuous process is less labor-intensive than sheet-to-sheet or batch manufacturing, resulting in less downtime and higher output.

Sustainability benefits for roll-to-roll manufacturing for fhe

Most flexible hybrid electronic devices today are produced by sheet-to-sheet manufacturing. By switching to R2R, you can further improve the sustainability of your product.

  • Improved material utilization – Rolls allow manufacturers to optimize substrate material and minimize waste.
  • Reduced energy consumption – As a continuous process, R2R cuts down on the stop-and-go nature of batch manufacturing. This reduces heating and cooling cycles that consume significant amounts of energy. Overall, R2R can help manufacturers lower their carbon footprint.

Better for the bottom line, too

In addition to the sustainability benefits, roll-to-roll manufacturing has several business advantages. R2R is easy to scale up to accommodate increased demand. The approach also improves productivity, lowers material costs, and reduces production costs.

Scaling up production of flexible hybrid electronics

When you add it all together, R2R is the ideal manufacturing process for sustainably manufactured printed electronics, especially at high volumes.

The challenge is innovators of FHE applications are primarily found at research labs and start-ups. These teams are developing cutting-edge products but rarely have the background to plan ahead for manufacturing. These types of organizations often do not have industry partners to access roll-to-roll production for printed electronics.

At Tapecon, we help teams take advantage of this innovative process to drive efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and maintain a competitive edge in the market. As a manufacturer with considerable experience in printed electronics, we can provide guidance on printed electronics early in the development process. Our approach is to design FHEs with an eye on manufacturing to ensure the application can scale from prototype to full-scale production. We also offer roll-to-roll manufacturing as part of our wide range of materials converting capabilities.

When you’re ready to make your product more sustainable and cost-efficient, contact the Tapecon team for a consultation.

Let’s make something great

With over 100 years of manufacturing experience, Tapecon works with product teams to solve challenges, create products, and enhance lives. Learn more about our flexible printed electronics applications.

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