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PCB-Feb2017

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54 The PCB Magazine • February 2017 production steps as an alternative for the tra- ditional analogue technology. We have a range of legend inks and etch resist already commer- cially available. Van Dam: Agfa holds a wide experience in ink- jet ink development for different graphic appli- cations. We have now an integrated bigger team working on inkjet inks both for graphics and PCB. Matties: So you aren't doing any equipment. You are a materials supplier only? Louwet: Indeed, Agfa Materials does only ma- terials. Our Agfa Graphic team does also equip- ment for graphics applications but we do not. It is both a strength and a weakness. A weakness is that Agfa Materials cannot offer the full solu- tion to the customer. The strength is of course that we can interact with many printer manu- facturers and have open discussions with them. The PCB industry does not like to be bound to a single source for hardware and ink. Our printer partners are very important. A solution has to be offered to the customer. This cannot be done with the ink only; you need strong printer manufacturers to go along. Matties: As we've been talking about your prod- ucts, the etch resist and legend ink, I noticed that you are compatible and approved with most avail- able inkjet equipment. That's a smart strategy. Louwet: We started with the development of the legend inks. By now it's our fourth genera- tion. It is not always spot on from the first time, but you learn a lot for the next generations and for the next products, like etch resist and solder mask. Matties: The area of films and inks for the PCB industry was screen printing back in 1945, all the way to 2020, which will be additive inkjet print- ing. This is where we're not going to be etching boards at all, but we're just going to be printing our circuits? Louwet: Yes, but 2020 is probably too optimis- tic. Basically, the PCB industry has now accepted additive legend IJ printing; etch resist IJ print- ing will be next, followed by IJ solder mask. The ultimate next step is of course that you print also the metal. For that Agfa developed a nanoparti- cle ink. With our extensive background in silver technology, Agfa has a proprietary nanoparticle silver dispersion which has been formulated for screen-printing inks. We are now also develop- ing inkjet inks that can be used in a PCB envi- ronment. Matties: Is there a lot of interest in the industry for this product right now? From a visionary point of view, are fabricators coming to you and saying, "What do you have coming for this kind of pro- cess?" Or do they even care? Louwet: Yes, there are players that are interested and are coming to us. Matties: Is it small scale at this point? Louwet: It's small scale, but there are big- ger companies doing some applications today INKJET PRINTING SOLDER MASK Frank Louwet

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