About Empower Materials
Thick film technology is a polymer bonding process used in the
manufacture of a diverse range of electronic and optical products the
world over. Thick Film technology is used in the manufacture of
plasma displays, ceramic packaging, optical sensors, ceramic circuitry,
electronic chip components, solar cells, microelectromechanical systems
(MEMS) and hermetic packaging, amongst others.
Thick Film technology is a process which renders several successive
layers of components on top of each other, incorporating a bonding
liquid (Thick Film thermally decomposing binder) in-between the
layers to help bind them together. The amalgamation is then heated to
bond the layered components together forming the finished component.
AZoM spoke to Peter Ferraro from Empower Materials, a leading
manufacturer of clean, thermally decomposable Thick Film Polymers to
find out more about the process and where the future lies with QPAC
40 PPC leading the way:
AZoM: How does the process of Thick Film Bonding work?
And what is the typical composition of a thermally decomposable Thick
Empower Materials: Thick film
materials are typically composed of metal or ceramic powders with a
glass powder added, together with an organic vehicle consisting mainly
of polymeric binder dissolved in a solvent. The glass powder helps to
bond the metal or ceramic to a substrate during the firing process
which removes the organic vehicle and sinters the inorganic powders
AZoM: You mentioned that both Organic and Inorganic
components form an integral part of a thermally decomposable thick film
material, what is the purpose of the Organic component and what are the
best compounds to use?
Empower Materials: The organic
component is designed to produce a paste with a viscosity that allows
the thick-film material to be applied to a substrate, usually by a
screen-printing process. Ideally, the organic component should be
completely removed without any residue, such as carbon, during the
AZoM: During the manufacturing process, what are the
main hurdles to overcome when using thick film technology?
Empower Materials: First of
all, the viscosity of the paste should be such that good print
definition is achieved when the paste is dried on the substrate before
firing. This includes uniform thickness and area, and sharp
edges. Secondly, a short firing process at a low temperature is
required for manufacturing efficiency.
AZoM: Organic residue and other contaminants are a
major issue to overcome when using thermally decomposable thick film
binding, what are the main implications of the residue left behind?
Empower Materials: If trapped in the
film, residue from
the organic binder can cause bubbles and/or blisters after
firing. In addition, the electrical or optical performance can be
AZoM: More specifically, residual carbon and the
resulting drop in the optical transmission of the glass in plasma
displays and solar panels manufactured using the thick film process can
be a common problem. What are the implications of this from the end
users perspective? And how can this problem be avoided during
Empower Materials: For such
applications, residual carbon can result in poor quality product,
reducing yield, and increasing manufacturing cost.
AZoM: What are the most commonly used thick film
binder systems in the market today?
Empower Materials: Ethyl cellulose
has been the traditional thick film polymeric binder because of low
cost and the ability to provide good viscosity characteristics.
Lower carbon residue can be achieved by using acrylic systems but
viscosity is hard to control. On the other hand, QPAC binder
systems have burn-out efficiency as good, or better than, acrylic and
can be formulated to provide the required viscosity characteristics.
AZoM: More specifically, what is the QPAC 40 PPC system?
Empower Materials: The QPAC 40 PPC
system consists of a high molecular weight polypropylene carbonate
polymer dissolved in a solvent that is suitable for screen-printing
applications. Dispersant may be added if necessary.
AZoM: How does QPAC 40 PPC compare to the standard thick
film binding materials? And what are the main benefits of the system?
Empower Materials: QPAC 40 PPC
produces significantly lower residue after firing, providing improved
thick-film product performance, and can be decomposed efficiently
during short firing processes at relatively low temperatures.
AZoM: The QPAC 40 PPC system decomposes at a lower
temperature than the more traditional binding agents, what is the
significance of this and how does enhance the process?
Empower Materials: The low
decomposition temperature of QPAC allows burn-out in air with minimal
oxidation of metal powders (such as Cu or Ni), the use of glass powders
with lower melting temperatures (providing a wider range of
properties), and shorter cycle times during processing.
AZoM: With the current demand for smaller, more
powerful electronics, where does Thick Film Technology sit and how does
the QPAC system differ from the competition?
Empower Materials: The
performance of QPAC is unmatched by any other binder system and its use
is well established in a variety of electronic applications.
Thick film technology continues to grow and it is expected that QPAC
will gradually replace most of the traditional binder systems used
AZoM: There have been some significant advancements
in recent research and development within the thick film manufacturing
industry, with this in mind, what is the significance of the QPAC 40
Empower Materials: QPAC has
been used for several years in thick film pastes that provide
metallization to aluminium nitride substrates. It is an ideal binder
system for Cu and Ni metallization and its benefits have been
demonstrated in multilayer ceramic capacitors. Its use can be expected
to grow in plasma displays and solar cells.
AZoM: What is the future for thick film technology? And,
where is Empower materials focusing?
Empower Materials: Thick-film
technology has a bright future as is evident by the healthy business
performance of the leading manufacturers of thick-film pastes. Empower
Materials is partnering with leaders in the industry to make available
a binder system that will improve product performance and provide a
Materials Inc. is the producer of QPAC®
the world's cleanest thermally decomposable organic/sacrificial binders. QPAC® cleanly decomposes into CO2 and water in many types of
atmospheres and leaves virtually no residue. This property contributes
widespread usage in many demanding applications.
more information please contact Empower Materials.