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98 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2019 The subtractive process (an etching process of copper foil) is the primary technology used to build various printed circuits. On the oth- er hand, printable electronics are making sig- nificant progress in this area, and several re- searchers predict the traditional etching pro- cesses will be replaced by printing technol- ogies in the near future. The advantages are both technical and economical for manufac- turers, but is this practical? I currently use both technologies, depend- ing on the task at hand. Figure 1 compares the technical capabilities of etching processes and printing processes. The etching process (red line) assumes typical photolithography and etching with flexible copper laminates. Thick- film printing means screen-printing of silver pastes on plastic films (blue line). The red and blue lines show different pat- terns, and the processes have different advan- Polymer Thick-film Circuits: Practical or Not? EPTE Newsletter by Dominique K. Numakura, DKN Research LLC Figure 1: Radar chart comparison of the capabilities of etching and printed electronics processes.

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