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Publication numberUS20060254440 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/394,086
Publication dateNov 16, 2006
Filing dateMar 31, 2006
Priority dateApr 13, 2005
Also published asEP1713311A2, EP1713311A3, EP1713311B1
Publication number11394086, 394086, US 2006/0254440 A1, US 2006/254440 A1, US 20060254440 A1, US 20060254440A1, US 2006254440 A1, US 2006254440A1, US-A1-20060254440, US-A1-2006254440, US2006/0254440A1, US2006/254440A1, US20060254440 A1, US20060254440A1, US2006254440 A1, US2006254440A1
InventorsByung-Oh Choi, Byung-Soon Ryu, Kyu-Jin Lim, Kwang-Young Kim, Dong-Soo Kim, So-Nam Yun, Young-Bog Ham, Taik-Min Lee, Jeong-Dai Jo, Hyun-Eui Lim, Chan-Su Yoo
Original AssigneeKorea Institute Of Machinery & Materials
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for manufacturing electronic device using roll-to-roll rotary pressing process
US 20060254440 A1
Abstract
Disclosed herein is a method and apparatus for manufacturing an electronic device, which is intended to economically manufacture an electronic circuit device, such as an IC chip, using functional ink and a roll-to-roll rotary pressing process. The method includes a first step of injecting functional ink into a forming groove of a forming roll, a second step of removing ink covering a surface of the forming roll, a third step of drying a surface of the functional ink injected into the forming groove, a fourth step of transferring the dried surface of the functional ink to a printing roll, a fifth step of drying another surface of the functional ink transferred to the printing roll, a sixth step of transferring the functional ink from the printing roll to flexible printing paper which is unwound from a winding roll, and a seventh step of winding the printing paper, on which an electronic circuit is printed, around a rewinding roll.
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Claims(20)
1. A method of manufacturing electronic devices using a roll-to-roll rotary pressing process, comprising:
a first step of injecting functional ink into a forming groove of a forming roll;
a second step of removing ink covering a surface of the forming roll;
a third step of drying a surface of the functional ink injected into the forming groove;
a fourth step of transferring the dried surface of the functional ink to a printing roll;
a fifth step of drying another surface of the functional ink transferred to the printing roll;
a sixth step of transferring the functional ink from the printing roll to flexible printing paper which is unwound from a winding roll; and
a seventh step of winding the printing paper, on which an electronic circuit is printed, around a rewinding roll.
2. The method as set forth in claim 1, wherein a drying medium at the third and fourth steps comprises hot air or rays, such as far infrared rays.
3. The method as set forth in claim 1, further comprising:
a dielectric-layer coating step provided between the sixth and seventh steps.
4. The method as set forth in claim 1, further comprising:
a passivation-layer coating step provided between the sixth and seventh steps.
5. The method as set forth in claim 1, further comprising:
a printing-paper cutting step performed just before the seventh step.
6. An apparatus for manufacturing electronic devices using a roll-to-roll rotary pressing process, comprising:
a winding roll around which flexible printing paper is wound;
a plurality of printing units arranged in a straight line, each of the printing units comprising:
an ink reservoir storing functional ink therein;
an ink injection roll installed to be immersed in the functional ink;
a forming roll installed to rotate in one direction while contacting the ink injection roll, with forming grooves provided on the surface of the forming roll to correspond to the shape of a desired circuit pattern;
a doctor blade installed to contact a side of the forming roll, and scraping ink from a surface of the forming roll;
a first drying unit to dry a surface of the functional ink injected into each of the forming grooves;
a printing roll installed to rotate in a direction opposite that of the forming roll while contacting the forming roll, and transferring forming ink transferred from the forming roll to the printing paper;
a second drying unit to dry another surface of the forming ink transferred to a surface of the printing roll; and
a press roll installed to rotate in a direction opposite that of the printing roll while contacting the printing roll, and pressing the printing paper toward the printing roll at a constant pressure;
at least one coating unit, comprising:
a coating-agent container to contain a coating agent therein;
a coating-agent feeding roll installed to be immersed in the coating agent;
a coating roll installed to contact the coating-agent feeding roll, rotating in one direction, and coating the surface of the printing paper having the circuit pattern with the coating agent; and
a coating press roll installed to contact the coating roll, thus pressing the printing paper;
a rewinding roll to rewind the printing paper when printing has been completed;
a plurality of guide rolls arranged between the winding roll and the rewinding roll, thus guiding the printing paper; and
tension regulating units installed around the winding roll and the rewinding roll, respectively, and regulating tension of the printing paper.
7. The manufacturing apparatus as set forth in claim 6, wherein at least one surface of the printing roll comprises an elastomer.
8. The manufacturing apparatus as set forth in claim 7, wherein the elastomer is silicone rubber.
9. The manufacturing apparatus as set forth in claim 7, wherein the elastomer has shore hardness ranging from 20 to 70 HS.
10. The manufacturing apparatus as set forth in claim 6, wherein a difference between surface energy of the printing roll and surface energy of the functional ink is 2erg/cm or less.
11. The manufacturing apparatus as set forth in claim 6, wherein contact pressure between the forming roll and the ink injection roll is regulated by a first pressure regulator.
12. The manufacturing apparatus as set forth in claim 6, wherein contact pressure between the press roll and the printing roll is regulated by a second pressure regulator.
13. The manufacturing apparatus as set forth in claim 6, further comprising:
a cutting unit installed before the rewinding roll, thus cutting the printing paper when the printing has been completed.
14. An apparatus for printing electronic devices, comprising:
an ink reservoir storing functional ink therein;
an ink injection roll installed to be immersed in the functional ink;
a forming roll installed to rotate in one direction while contacting the ink injection roll, with forming grooves provided on a surface of the forming roll to correspond to a shape of a desired circuit pattern;
a doctor blade installed to contact a side of the forming roll, and scraping ink from a surface of the forming roll;
a first drying unit to dry a surface of the functional ink injected into each of the forming grooves;
a printing roll installed to rotate in a direction opposite that of the forming roll while contacting the forming roll, and transferring forming ink from the forming roll to the printing paper;
a second drying unit to dry another surface of the forming ink transferred to a surface of the printing roll; and
a press roll installed to rotate in a direction opposite that of the printing roll while contacting the printing roll, and pressing the printing paper toward the printing roll at a constant pressure.
15. The printing apparatus as set forth in claim 14, wherein at least one surface of the printing roll comprises an elastomer.
16. The printing apparatus as set forth in claim 15, wherein the elastomer is silicone rubber.
17. The printing apparatus as set forth in claim 15, wherein the elastomer has shore hardness ranging from 20 to 70 HS.
18. The printing apparatus as set forth in claim 14, wherein a difference between surface energy of the printing roll and surface energy of the functional ink is 2erg/cm or less.
19. The printing apparatus as set forth in claim 14, wherein contact pressure between the forming roll and the ink injection roll is regulated by a first pressure regulator.
20. The printing apparatus as set forth in claim 14, wherein contact pressure between the press roll and the printing roll is regulated by a second pressure regulator.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a method and apparatus for manufacturing an electronic device using a roll-to-roll rotary pressing process, which is intended to economically manufacture an electronic circuit device, such as an IC chip, using functional ink and a roll-to-roll rotary pressing process.

2. Description of the Related Art

As well known to those skilled in the art, electronic devices, such as transistors or ICs, form a circuit pattern using a compact crystal structure of an inorganic material, such as metal or silicone. Thus, an important deposition process, such as a sputtering process, is performed under high temperature and vacuum conditions, using expensive precision equipment.. Most manufacturing and inspecting operations require a very clean environment. Further, the operations are performed not through a constant continuous production method but through a batch production method having several stages, so that productivity is very low. According to Moore's law regarding technical development speed, which states that the capacity of memory chips to be developed in the future will double every 18 to 24 months, a nano-scale pattern will be developed. In this case, manufacturing costs will further increase. Thereby, the amount to be invested for new installations may reach several trillions of won. Moreover, whenever a pattern forming process using photolithography and an etching process are repeated, many chemical cleaning operations must be carried out, thus incurring a heavy burden for waste-water treatment and pollution prevention. In spite of high manufacturing costs, silicone semiconductor producing technology must be further developed in order to produce a high density product of a giga or tera grade, because high density products continuously generate good profits. Meanwhile, the production of an IC chip which has a low grade, that is, a kilo-grade, has low economic efficiency. Thus, even if the kilo-grade chip is required, it will not be produced. Even though the silicone semiconductor industry is developing towards nanotechnology, an industry providing cheap middle or low grade microchips must be maintained in order to provide cheap electronic products for general purposes. To this end, an alternative industry is keenly needed.

When new-generation RFID/USN electronic devices, which are most electronic devices for general purposes, are manufactured using current silicone semiconductor technology, manufacturing costs are high. Thus, it is impossible to supply the electronic devices at low cost. Conversely, if an electronic device comprising a printed IC chip is produced at low cost through a printing method, such as commonly used printed material, the electronic device may be supplied at low cost. Current printing technology is highly developed with respect to productivity and quality. Thus, when rotary pressing technology having high productivity is applied to produce a printed IC chip, an RFID tag can be manufactured for one cent or less, so that a price target is easily achieved.

In order to produce an electronic device having micro scale lines through printing, unlike a silicone semiconductor, no matter how simple the function of the printed IC chip is, the material of circuit elements, including a conductor, a semiconductor, and a dielectric, must have properties in order to be sufficiently printable. Since many efforts have been made to develop nano particles of conductive polymers for several decades, various kinds of printing ink (functional ink) have been developed. Hence, recently, there are many attempts to develop a thin film transistor, a solar battery, a light emitting diode, an integrated circuit, etc. through a printing method using the printing ink.

However, the production of the IC chip is not easily realized through the printing method using various kinds of functional ink. It is still in an experimental stage, because of complicating factors.

First, the IC chip cannot be produced through printing because of an ink material. Inventive ink material is still in an initial development stage with respect to characteristics, durability, and cost, so that it is unfeasible to use the ink material in practice. That is, the quality of the ink material and production technology therefor are insufficient, so that the ink material cannot be mass-produced. Although the technology for the ink material is advanced and the costs of the material have become low, electronic devices, such as various IC chips, must be produced through a new method using a printing process, and a booming market where products are competitively supplied and demanded must be created so as to rapidly develop the IC chip printing process. Further, if a printer, which is the important element for producing a printed IC chip, is not modified to be suitable for manufacturing IC chips but is a general printer for printing graphics or images, it is impossible to develop or produce a micro printed IC chip as desired.

Among general printers, a representative printer used in the electronic industry is a screen printer. Assuming that an image screen having visual information or the pattern of an electronic circuit have similar resolution of about 200 μm, even a general screen printer may be used as excellent equipment for manufacturing electronic devices. However, if a print having a finer pattern is required, it is impossible to manufacture a desired electronic device using the general screen printer. Thus, recently, the screen printer has been developed into a precision screen printer, thus increasing the resolution and improving a registration function. Thereby, the precision screen printer is useful for forming a pattern having a larger area in a process for manufacturing a PDP or the like. As advanced screen printing technology, another printing method has been proposed, which is called stencil printing. The stencil printing originates from the screen printing method, but uses a thin metal plate in place of a screen plate. The stencil printing method plays an important role as equipment for mounting semiconductor chips. It is a good example of development of the general printer into equipment for producing an electronic device. However, the resolution of the equipment has not reached the resolution required for manufacturing IC chips.

Further, many attempts have been made in a silicone semiconductor industrial field to produce electronic devices using not a stage production process but a roll-to-roll continuous production process. No matter how the precision screen printer or the stencil printer is developed to be generally used for producing electronic devices, it does not overcome the limitation of the stage production process. A roll-to-roll continuous printing process has been already developed. However, unless a new rotary pressing technology and a new ink transfer method for a printed IC chip, which must be fundamentally superior to existing image information printing technology and printers optimized for a person's visual discrimination, are developed, a conventional rotary press cannot be utilized. Thus, like the precision screen printer or the stencil printer, the printing method using the rotary press must be modified so as to be suitable for producing electronic devices.

Recently, an ink jet printing method has been used to provide MEMS characteristics to an electronic device. The ink jet printing method is one kind of direct-imaging printing method, and is carried out in a non-contact manner as follows. That is, ink droplets having a very small size in the pico-liter scale are deposited through a nozzle of an ink jet head on an object to be printed according to a design pattern stored in a computer file at a high discharge speed which discharges several thousands droplets per second. Such a printing method has been rapidly developed for several decades, and is becoming a representative digital printing method which is used in a print field outputting digital file data. In order to perform even a printing test of a conventional printer, a person must master a complicated plate-making operation and a difficult multi-stage control operation for driving the printer. Unlike the conventional printer, a material scientist can easily use the ink jet printer. That is, it is possible to immediately obtain a printed product through the ink jet printing which is automatically driven according to the pattern data stored in a computer, so that such a printing method is the most preferred printing method in the organic semiconductor technology field. However, the ink jet printing method basically uses dot printing technology, unlike other printing methods. Thus, several problems may occur in the application of the ink jet printing method to line pattern printing.

In a detailed description, the ink jet printing method is disadvantageous compared to a typical printing method which is performed in a contact manner using a printing plate, in consideration of a pin hole forming a line using dots, gaps, surface roughness, edge roughness, difficulty in forming lines of various widths, and positional misalignment when repeatedly printing. Further, in the case where mass production is attempted, the movement of many nozzles when a plurality of engine sets comprising a great number of ink jet heads is moved is complicated in comparison with a very simple printing using a printing plate. Hence, it is difficult to obtain uniform print quality, especially when micro printing.

Thereby, a lot of research has been conducted and a lot of effort has made in order to develop an ink jet printing method that can overcome the above-mentioned problems when printing an organic IC chip.

Recently, as another example, soft lithography, also known as micro contact printing, has been promoted. Soft lithography was invented so as to produce an IC chip circuit having a design rule from 100 to 0.1 μm in an economical manner. The soft lithography is a new printing method which performs line pattern printing using a simple contact-type printing process. However, this method is used as a process replacing only a photolithography process in a silicone semiconductor production process, unlike the original intention. Since the printing method conducts printing using special precision chemical ink which may form a self-assembled monolayer (SAM), the printing of a fine line width at a nano grade as well as a micro grade is possible. A printing plate uses a flexography printing plate manufactured by preparing a concave mold pattern having a fine pattern using a photolithography technique of the existing silicone semiconductor manufacturing process, and pouring silicone rubber into the concave mold pattern. However, the technology making a silicone-rubber printing plate having a fine pattern corresponding to a sub micro grade using advanced silicone semiconductor technology, and realizing the pattern of a fine corrosion-preventing film using SAM ink, which is an expensive high-grade material, is used only for producing expensive IC chips. Thereby, this printing method tends to be used for nano-transfer-printing (NTP) technology, unlike its original purpose. This printing method has been developed as technology having higher economical efficiency and productivity in a corrosion-preventing film manufacturing process for a large-sized IC circuit and a nano-grade IC chip, which has not satisfactorily been achieved by current photolithography technology. Therefore, the soft lithography printing method is not printing technology suitable for efficiently producing a printed IC chip that is inexpensive and has a simple function.

Further, a printing method using a precision screen printer provides relatively good results in comparison with the photolithography method, when a plate panel display, such as a PDP or an LCD, which is wide and has a larger area, is manufactured, so that the printing method contributes to this field. The printing method contributing to the field includes a screen printing method, an ink jet printing method, a gravure offset printing method, etc. The gravure offset printing method provides excellent ink transferability when a fragile substrate, such as glass, is printed. Further, since it is possible to use a finely patterned gravure printing plate, the gravure offset printing method is used to manufacture an IC circuit plate having a larger area and serving as an active component for driving the display. Further, the printing method is used to form a color filter element of a display having a large area.

The gravure offset printing method is called a rotary pad printing method. The gravure offset printing method is used in the above-mentioned field, because it is possible to make a fine circuit line pattern having a design rule of several micrometers on a cylindrical printing plate, it is possible to use an elastic blanket made of silicone rubber, which easily transfers ink to a fragile substrate having a large area, like screen printing and ink-jet printing, and 100% ink transferability of the silicone rubber is suitable for electronic pattern printing. However, this is mainly used to overcome an upper area limit in a photoresist patterning process, which is one silicone conductor process. Meanwhile, recently, many attempts have been made to put into practice methods derived from the gravure offset printing method, which is advantageously used to print a fine electrode circuit thanks to the development of conductive polymer ink. However, it may only substitute for photoresist patterning in the silicone semiconductor process, and is only useful as a batch printing method for a substrate having a larger area. Thus, no printing method which supplements the function of the gravure offset printing method has been proposed for making a printing unit, which could thereby economically produce an IC chip in a rotary pressing process, like the present invention.

An advanced printing technology is a newspaper printer. Recently, the rotary offset printing technology for newspaper printing has been developed to the extent that the production speed has reached a current maximum of 25 m/sec (1500 m per minute). To this end, the driving method has recently changed. That is, according to the prior art, a shaft and gears are complicatedly mechanically coupled to one main motor, thus rotating many cylinders of respective units. This has changed to a shaftless system, in which each cylinder is independently rotated by a respective servo motor. A servo driver for the servo motors is controlled via a computer, so that multicolored printing and a post process, such as folding or cutting operation, can be more accurately and consistently achieved at high speed using one printer.

Further, the ink supply amount is automatically controlled by vision control employing a digital camera, and the drive cylinder of each printing unit is delicately controlled with respect to the rotating direction and the axial direction for the purpose of precise registration. As such, mechatronics and automatic control operation have been developed into a system comprising a high technology computer, so that automation having a self-diagnostic function has been achieved. This is the first roll-to-roll production equipment.

However, the current rotary press for printing newspaper cannot be used to print an IC chip. The reasons are as follows.

First, the resolution for informational image printing, including newspaper printing, is adapted to a person's visual limits. Thus, it is designed such that the highest resolution is about 100 μm (2501 pi). However, for a transistor, which is an important active component of an IC chip, an organic thin film transistor (OTFT), which may be printed using organic ink, such as conductive polymer or semiconductor polymer, must have a channel length between a source and a drain or a circuit line width of about 10 μm, so as to increase the usability thereof. Thus, the printing resolution realized by the printing technology must be developed to about 10 μm. However, since the current printing technology is set to 100 μm, the technology cannot be applied to print and produce an IC chip requiring a design rule of 10 μm.

Second, regardless of whether the offset printing technology, the gravure printing technology, the type printing technology, or another highly productive printing technology is considered, the image printing technology for visual information has been developed based on dot printing technology. In order to apply the general printing technology to IC chip printing requiring line patterns, many problems of the ink jet printing method must be solved. Thus, new printing technology must be developed to realize line-pattern printing.

Third, general printing, such as color printing, is technology that conducts printing using a distributional arrangement process such that respective dots having different colors printed by one color in different two-dimensional printing units do not overlap each other, if possible. However, in order to produce an IC chip using a contact-type printing process using a printing plate, a technique permitting overlap printing is required in order to realize a three-dimensional MEMS technique. The visible image information printing can utilize a screen distribution technique comprising several dots that use an optical illusion to deceive a person's eyes. Thus, even if the dots are not contiguous, this is allowable to some extent. Further, when one dot overlaps another dot which has been previously printed and is not dry and the resultant color is muddy, this is no problem so long as the muddiness is not detected by a person's eyes. However, the line pattern of the printed IC chip does not tolerate the above-mentioned printing defects, but strictly requires the printing of a pattern and shape having reliable physical parameters. A new print quality standard must be established. That is, printing which produces a line-gain beyond an allowable tolerance, in addition to having the problems of pin holes, discontinuities, roughness, etc., is unacceptable. Further, printing layers printed one by one must be neatly transferred, the physical properties of overlapping printing layers must not be mixed with each other, and insufficient drying, leading to intermixing, is unacceptable.

Fourth, as described above, the print quality of image information is finally determined by a person's eyes, so that it is possible to visually check colors, resolution, or concentration using an optical camera. Since it is possible to measure the colors, resolution, or concentration by sensing light reflected from printed matter, production and real-time inspection may be simultaneously carried out in a printing line merely by mounting a camera on the printer. However, the quality of an electronic device is determined by electronic physical factors, including conductivity, mobility, a dielectric constant, etc., which are measured by direct contact using a probe of an electrode.

However, when an IC chip is produced through a roll-to-roll rotary pressing process, desired productivity and economical efficiency cannot be achieved unless real-time inspection is conducted through a non-contact type of in-line inspection method, as in general printing. In the present state, the inspection method of the general printing, which measures color, resolution, and concentration, must be indirectly used. The optical parameters of physical factors are appropriately determined according to the ink and print conditions, so that the visual method using a camera is employed.

Fifth, a more precise registration capability is required, in comparison to the conventional rotary pressing technology that prints an object to be printed, which is susceptible to tension, heat, and moisture, like paper and film, using a roll-to-roll process. A precise register control is required to form a fine pattern circuit of the printed IC chip at a predetermined position for respective layers through printing. In other words, a register control which controls an allowable tolerance in a more precise and highly advanced pattern having a resolution of about 10 μm is required.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention has been made keeping in mind the above problems occurring in the prior art, and an object of the present invention is to provide a method and apparatus for manufacturing an electronic device using a roll-to-roll rotary pressing process, which prints an ordinary or inexpensive electronic device on flexible printing paper using a roll-to-roll rotary pressing process, thus economically manufacturing the electronic device, and enhancing productivity.

In order to accomplish the above object, the present invention provides a method of manufacturing electronic devices using a roll-to-roll rotary pressing process, including a first step of injecting functional ink into a forming groove of a forming roll; a second step of removing ink covering a surface of the forming roll; a third step of drying a surface of the functional ink injected into the forming groove; a fourth step of transferring the dried surface of the functional ink to a printing roll; a fifth step of drying another surface of the functional ink transferred to the printing roll; a sixth step of transferring the functional ink from the printing roll to flexible printing paper which is unwound from a winding roll; and a seventh step of winding the printing paper, on which an electronic circuit is printed, around a rewinding roll.

Further, in order to accomplish the above object, the present invention provides an apparatus for manufacturing electronic devices using a roll-to-roll rotary pressing process, including a winding roll around which flexible printing paper is wound; a plurality of printing units arranged in a straight line, each of the printing units including an ink reservoir storing functional ink therein, an ink injection roll installed to be immersed in the functional ink, a forming roll installed to rotate in one direction while contacting the ink injection roll, with forming grooves provided on the surface of the forming roll to correspond to the shape of a desired circuit pattern, a doctor blade installed to contact a side of the forming roll, and scraping ink from a surface of the forming roll, a first drying unit to dry a surface of the functional ink injected into each of the forming grooves, a printing roll installed to rotate in a direction opposite that of the forming roll while contacting the forming roll and transferring forming ink transferred from the forming roll to the printing paper, a second drying unit to dry another surface of the forming ink transferred to a surface of the printing roll, and a press roll installed to rotate in a direction opposite that of the printing roll while contacting the printing roll, and pressing the printing paper toward the printing roll at a constant pressure; at least one coating unit, including a coating-agent container to contain a coating agent therein, a coating-agent feeding roll installed to be immersed in the coating agent, a coating roll installed to contact the coating-agent feeding roll, rotating in one direction, and coating the surface of the printing paper having the circuit pattern with the coating agent, and a coating press roll installed to contact the coating roll, thus pressing the printing paper; a rewinding roll to rewind the printing paper when printing has been completed; a plurality of guide rolls arranged between the winding roll and the rewinding roll, thus guiding the printing paper; and tension regulating units installed around the winding roll and the rewinding roll, respectively and regulating tension of the printing paper.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be more clearly understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a flowchart illustrating a method of manufacturing an electronic device, according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a view showing the entire construction of an apparatus for manufacturing an electronic device, according to the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a detailed view showing part of the electronic device manufacturing apparatus, that is, a printing unit, according to the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a view showing the printing unit to which pressure regulators are installed;

FIG. 5 is a detailed view showing part of the electronic device manufacturing apparatus, that is, a coating unit, according to the present invention; and

FIGS. 6 a to 6 c are cutaway views showing portion A of FIG. 2, in which an electronic device is printed on printing paper.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Hereinafter, the preferred embodiment of the present invention will be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Summarizing the invention, this invention relates to a method of mass producing an electronic device, such as a thin film transistor or an IC chip, by directly printing a circuit pattern using a printer, functional ink, such as a conductive polymer, and a roll-to-roll printing process.

Particularly, typical rotary pressing technology is adopted, which easily conducts transferring and printing by adhering ink to a forming roll, which is made in the method having the highest productivity among conventional image information printing methods so as to conduct manufacturing using a continuous method, that is, a roll-to-roll method. However, in order to print a pattern of an electronic circuit comprising lines, unlike a general printing technique expressing a pixel using dots, a gravure plate making method, which is advantageous for printing using lines, is modified and adapted to this invention. Thus, an ink transfer method is developed, which is an indirect printing method using a printing roll to repeatedly print line patterns of an IC chip and thus efficiently construct a micro electro mechanical system (MEMS). Further, in-line testing and real-time print setting correction are performed in a non-contact manner using an optical camera. A continuous total inspection and a real-time automatic control operation are developed to be suitable for the intended purpose. The current production speed is still lower than that of a general rotary press, but affords accurate register setting. This will be further improved in the future.

FIG. 1 is a flowchart illustrating a method of manufacturing an electronic device, according to the present invention, FIG. 2 is a view showing the entire construction of an apparatus for manufacturing an electronic device, according to the present invention, FIG. 3 is a detailed view showing part of the electronic device manufacturing apparatus, that is, a printing unit, according to the present invention, FIG. 4 is a view showing the printing unit to which pressure regulators are installed, FIG. 5 is a detailed view showing part of the electronic device manufacturing apparatus, that is, a coating unit, according to the present invention, and FIGS. 6 a to 6 c are cutaway views showing portion A of FIG. 2, in which an electronic device is printed on printing paper.

The method of manufacturing an electronic device according to the present invention will be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings.

(Step 1) Functional Ink is Injected into Forming Grooves of a Forming Roll.

At step 1, an ink injection roll 22 immersed in ink 2 stored in an ink reservoir 21 is installed to be in close contact with a forming roll 23 which is provided above the ink injection roll 22. While the forming roll 23 and the ink injection roll 22 rotate, ink covering the ink injection roll 22 is injected into forming grooves 23 a which are provided on the surface of the forming roll 23.

(Step 2) The Ink Covering the Surface of the Forming Roll is Scraped Off.

At step 2, a doctor blade 24, which is called a scraper, is installed to be in contact with the surface of the forming roll 23. Thus, when the forming roll 23 is rotated, the doctor blade 24 scrapes the surface of the forming roll 23, thus eliminating the ink covering the surface of the forming roll 23. However, ink filling the forming grooves 23 a is not eliminated by the doctor blade 24, so that the ink remains in the forming grooves 23 a.

(Step 3) A Surface of the Functional Ink Filling Each Forming groove is Dried.

At step 3, a first drying unit 25 is installed to blow hot air or radiate IR or UV light beams, thus hardening (drying) a surface of the ink, just before the forming roll 23 comes into contact with the printing roll 26. Thus, the cohesion of the ink filled in each forming groove 23 a is increased, so that the ink can be easily transferred to the surface of the printing roll 26.

(Step 4) The Dried Surface of the Functional Ink is Transferred to the Printing Roll.

At step 4, forming ink 2 a filling the forming grooves 23 a of the forming roll 23 is transferred to the surface of the printing roll 26. Such a transfer process has excellent transferring efficiency, because a surface of the ink, that is, surface transferred to the printing roll 26, is dried to afford good transfer, in the previous step 3.

(Step 5) The Other Surface of the Functional Ink Transferred to the Printing Roll is Dried.

At step 5, a second drying unit 27 is installed to blow hot air or radiate IR or UV light beams, thus hardening (drying) the other surface of the ink, just before the printing roll 26 comes into contact with printing paper 1. Thus, the cohesion of the forming ink 2 a transferred to the printing roll 26 is increased, so that the ink is easily transferred from the printing roll 26 to the surface of the printing paper 1.

(Step 6) The Functional Ink in the Printing Roll is Transferred to Flexible Printing Paper Which is Unwound from a Winding Roll.

At step 6, the forming ink 2 a attached to the surface of the printing roll 26 is transferred to a surface of the printing paper 1. In the state where the printing paper 1 passes through the printing roll 26 and a press roll 28, ink is transferred to the surface of the printing paper 1 contacting the printing roll 26, and the press roll 28 presses the printing paper 1 against the printing roll. Thereby, ink is printed on the printing paper.

(Step 7) The Printing Paper on Which an Electronic Circuit is Printed is Wound Around a Rewinding Roll.

Step 7 is a final step, in which the printing paper 1 on which the electronic circuit pattern is printed through the ink transferring operation is wound around the rewinding roll 40.

In addition to the above-mentioned steps, a step 6-1 of coating a dielectric layer may be included between the steps 6 and 7. Further, a step 6-2 of coating a passivation layer may be included between the steps 6 and 7. Furthermore, a step 6-3 of cutting the printing paper 1 when a printing operation has been completed may be performed, just before step 7.

The dielectric-layer coating step 6-1 is a step in which dielectric is applied between a lower ink layer and an upper ink layer when ink is applied in layers. The passivation-layer coating step 6-2 is a step in which a passivation layer is applied on the surface of the uppermost ink layer, thus protecting the ink layers. Further, the cutting step 6-3 is a step in which cutting is completely or incompletely conducted between repeatedly printed patterns, thus allowing the printed electronic devices to be easily separated from each other in a subsequent process.

Hereinafter, the manufacturing method will be described further.

The gravure plate-making method of the forming roll used in the present invention does not use a screening technique for dot printing, unlike the general printing method. The gravure plate-making method for general printing comprises image printing using dot pixels. Thus, if the forming grooves 23 a are formed using the screening process, a proper amount of ink is transferred, so that ink, having low viscosity, does not flow out. However, a gravure plate of the circuit pattern comprising lines has fine micro-grade lines. Thus, once ink fills the forming grooves 23 a, the ink seldom flows out. Thereby, the screening operation can be omitted. If possible, the plate is made such that the forming grooves are deep. In this way, it is necessary to increase the initial ink transfer amount. Ink having low viscosity of several centipoises has a relatively large solvent content. Thus, the content of a functional material whose thickness is reduced after a drying process can be controlled within an error range. It is possible to realize a width and interval of fine lines of about 10 μm, through a gravure plate making method using a laser.

In order to neatly transfer and print ink for MEMS on the printing paper (paper or plastic film), the destructivity of typical ink transfer, where an ink layer having a liquid property is transferred by an adhering and tearing operation between the forming roll 23 and the printing roll 26 must be overcome, unlike the general printing. In order to transfer the ink having the shape of the forming grooves 23 a without changing the original shape, in the manner where surfaces of the two rolls contact each other, ink compactly fills the fine forming grooves 23 a. To this end, it is necessary to change the fluid state of the ink to an immobile state thereof. If the ink is changed to a solid state, the printing itself becomes impossible. Thus, the viscoelasticity of the ink must be increased to a degree that maintains predetermined liquidity, so that the shape of the ink escaping from the forming grooves 23 a is not destroyed. Since the viscoelasticity of the ink is increased but the ink has fluid characteristics, an excessively low contact transfer pressure does not sufficiently transfer the ink in the forming grooves 23 a, and an excessively high pressure destroys the shape of the ink layers. Therefore, as shown in FIG. 1, in order to provide proper impression pressure, a gravure offset printing method is used, which adopts an indirect printing method using the printing roll 26 made of rubber elastomer, that is, silicone rubber, as an intermediate transfer medium. This method is analogous to a rotary pad printing method. However, the method further develops the general rotary pad printing method to control the transfer pressure acting on ink fluid. Further, in order to improve the adhesive transferability of the ink layers and neatly transfer a pattern without change, it is constructed to maintain the pressure level and the drying condition constant.

In order to transfer ink to the printing paper using the printing roll 26, the physical properties of oil-based-ink must be similar to the surface energy of the printing roll. However, in order to transfer half or more of the ink in the forming grooves 23 a to the printing roll, the exposed surface of the ink contained in the forming grooves of the forming roll 23 is momentarily volatilized. Thereby, the surface is hardened to some extent so that the adhering force, taking viscoelasticity into account, is higher than that of the ink in the forming grooves. Therefore, when the printing roll 26 is in sufficiently close contact with the ink surface, the ink layers can be easily adhered to the lengthened surface of the printing roll. To this end, it is necessary to have elasticity, that is, low hardness, unlike the hardness of a printing roll used in general offset printing.

In this way, the printing ink transferred to the surface of the printing roll has a secondary transferring process comprising transfer to printing paper (substrate) contacting the press roll 28. When ink is transferred to the printing roll 26, the surface of the inner ink layer in each forming groove 23 a may be exposed. At this time, in order to permit nondestructive and easy adhesion and transfer to the printing paper 1, it is necessary to secondarily momentarily volatilize the ink surface on the printing roll 26. As such, due to the momentary volatilization and drying operation during the first and second ink transferring processes, the ink is already dried considerably and is thus hardened to some extent. Thus, the impression pressure for the secondary transfer using the press roll 28 may be set to be higher than the pressure at which the ink is transferred to the printing roll 26. Further, the solvent is reduced to some extent, so that the problem of bleeding on printing paper 1, such as typical paper, may be reduced, and the spread of ink on non-absorbent printing paper, such as plastic film, due to impression pressure may be reduced. In this case, 100% of the ink transferred to the printing roll 26 is transferred to the printing paper due to the surface characteristics of the printing roll having low surface energy. At this time, the transfer pressure is maintained as low as possible, thus preventing the line width from being increased.

An instantaneous drying unit for drying the surface of the forming roll 23 comprises a hot air supply unit or a hardening unit, such as IR or UV, which performs a drying operation after doctoring (or scraping) and before transfer to the printing roll 26. An instantaneous drying unit for drying the surface of the printing roll 26 comprises a hot air dryer or a light hardening unit, which is operated after the ink has been transferred from the forming roll 23 and before the ink is transferred to the printing paper 1. In this case, the temperature and air volume in the case of hot air drying, or the intensity or time in the case of light hardening, are individually controlled to be suitable for printing and ink conditions.

The surface hardness of the printing roll 26 may be selected from within a large range from 20 to 70 HS depending on the printing conditions. Particularly, in order to efficiently adhere to the ink surface having a fine line pattern, the printing roll must be manufactured to be as flat as possible. In order to efficiently charge the ink in the forming grooves 23 a of the forming roll 23, the ink comprises a fluid having a low viscosity of several centipoises. The surplus ink which is not filled in the forming grooves 23 a is scraped off by the doctor blade 24, and then the ink is transferred to the printing roll 26. Afterwards, ink remaining in the forming grooves 23 a is washed off in the ink reservoir 21 which supplies ink through immersion. In order to supply ink again, the ink injection roll 22 is installed.

The ink transfer pressure between the forming roll 23 and the printing roll 26, and the impression pressure between the printing roll 26 and the press roll 28 are individually controlled to proper pressures by a pressure control system so that the ink layer having a fine line width is transferred to the printing paper 1 as faithfully as possible. The ink transfer pressure between the forming roll 23 and the printing roll 26 and the impression pressure between the printing roll 26 and the press roll 28, which presses the printing paper 1, must be controlled by the precision pressure control system to maintain a required ink shape as precisely as possible, thus allowing the micro pattern for the IC chip to be manufactured on a printer using a roll-to-roll process.

Meanwhile, the electronic device (especially transistor) 3 printed and manufactured in the above-mentioned manner will be described in detail with reference to FIGS. 6 a to 6 c. When a gate conductor electrode 3 a is printed on the printing paper 1, the dielectric 4 is superposed on the printing paper to be applied throughout the printing paper. Next, after a drain electrode 3 b and a source electrode 3 c are printed, a semiconductor pattern 3 d is printed. Thereby, basic printing of the transistor is completed. The circuit of an organic IC chip to which a plurality of transistors and capacitors are connected becomes considerably complicated. However, the circuit may be manufactured in steps of electrode pattern printing—dielectric application—electrode pattern printing—semiconductor pattern printing. Finally, the passivation layer is applied, or printing, application, laminating, bias, or separation processes are additionally performed on the printer, thus providing a more ideal electronic device.

Hereinafter, the electronic device manufacturing apparatus according to the present invention will be described.

According to this invention, the electronic device manufacturing apparatus includes a winding roll 10, a plurality of printing units 20 having an in-line arrangement, a plurality of coating units 30 or a single coating unit 30, a rewinding roll 40, a plurality of guide rolls 50, and tension regulating units 60. Flexible printing paper 1 is wound around the winding roll 10. Each printing unit 20 includes an ink reservoir 21 storing functional ink 2 therein, an ink injection roll 22 installed to be immersed in the functional ink, a forming roll 23, a doctor blade 24, a first drying unit 25, a printing roll 26, a second drying unit 27, and a press roll 28. The forming roll 23 is installed to rotate in one direction while contacting the ink injection roll, and forming grooves 23 a corresponding to the shape of a desired circuit pattern are provided on the forming roll 23. The doctor blade 24 is installed to contact one surface of the forming roll, thus scraping ink off the surface of the forming roll. The first drying unit 25 dries one surface of functional ink injected into the forming grooves. The printing roll 26 is installed to rotate in one direction while contacting the forming roll, and transfers forming ink 2 a transferred from the forming roll to the printing paper. The second drying unit 27 dries the other surface of the forming ink transferred to the surface of the printing roll. The press roll 28 rotates in one direction while contacting the printing roll, and presses the printing paper toward the printing roll with constant pressure. Meanwhile, each coating unit 30 includes a coating-agent container 31, a coating-agent feeding roll 32 a, a coating roll 32, and a coating press roll 33. The coating-agent container 31 contains a coating agent 3 therein. The coating-agent feeding roll 32 a is installed to be immersed in the coating agent. The coating roll 32 is installed to rotate in one direction while contacting the coating-agent feeding roll 32 a, and applies the coating agent to the surface of the printing paper having the circuit pattern. The coating press roll 33 is installed to contact the coating roll, and presses the printing paper 1. The rewinding roll 40 rewinds the printing paper when printing has been completed. The guide rolls 50 are arranged between the winding roll 10 and the rewinding roll 40 to guide the printing paper. The tension regulating units 60 are installed around the winding roll and the rewinding roll, respectively, thus regulating tension acting on the printing paper.

In this case, at least one surface of the printing roll 26 comprises an elastomer, especially silicone rubber. Further, the elastomer has shore hardness ranging from 20 to 70 HS. Preferably, the difference between the surface energy of the printing roll 26 and the surface energy of the ink 2 is 2 erg/cm.

In the apparatus constructed as described above, the ink injection roll 22 immersed into the ink 2 contained in the ink reservoir 21 rotates while in close contact with the forming roll 23, thus pushing ink into the forming grooves 23 a provided on the surface of the forming roll. The lower part of the forming roll 23 is partially dipped into the ink and rotates so that ink having a low viscosity sufficiently fills the forming grooves 23 a. The forming roll 23 laden with the ink is scraped by the doctor blade 24 to remove the ink from the surface of the forming roll 23. Thereafter, the surface of the ink remaining only in the forming grooves 23 a is hardened to some extent by hot air or light from the first drying unit 25 for the instantaneous drying operation, thus having high cohesion and so being transferable to the surface of the printing roll 26. At this time, in order to efficiently transfer the ink to the printing roll 26, the difference between the surface energy of the ink and the surface energy of the printing roll must be 2 erg/cm or less. The ink transferred to the printing roll 26 is turned over in the direction opposite the ink in the forming grooves 23 a, so that the surface of the ink existing in the forming grooves is hardened to some extent and can then be attached to the printing roll. The ink present in the forming grooves is exposed to the atmosphere, and is instantaneously dried by the second drying unit 27 so as to be hardened to some extent. All of the ink, hardened by the instantaneous drying operation performed twice, is pressurized by the press roll 28 to be printed on the printing paper 1. At this time, the ink hardened by the instantaneous drying operation can maintain the shape of the ink layer, even if impression pressure is applied to the ink.

In a detailed description, when the forming roll 23 enters the ink reservoir 21, the ink is compactly charged in the forming grooves by the ink injection roll 22. Ink covering places other than the forming grooves 23 a is removed by the doctor blade 24. When the forming groove filled with the ink is positioned in front of the first drying unit 25, the solvent is rapidly volatilized at the surface of the ink, so that the surface of the ink is hardened to some extent. Thereafter, the primary transfer pressure acts on the hardened ink at the position where the ink contacts the printing roll 26. However, the hardened surface of the ink serves as a cover, thus preventing the ink from leaking out from the forming grooves even though nip pressure is momentarily increased.

Further, the surface of the printing roll 26, which is low in hardness and high in elasticity, serves to absorb the nip pressure, thus aiding in the stability of the ink in the forming grooves 23 a. In order to smoothly transfer the ink to the printing roll 26, the surface is dried at a position around the first drying unit 25 so that the ink does not adhere excessively strongly to the edge of each forming groove 23 a. Further, the ink is dried to a proper level so that the ink surface, having affinity to the surface of the printing roll 26, maintains its adhesive force. The ink is turned over during the transfer to the printing roll 26. Even ink present. inside each forming groove 23 a is dried to some extent by the second drying unit 27, so that the ink has viscoelasticity, unlike the ink stored in the ink reservoir 21. Thereby, the pattern shape does not collapsed despite high nip pressure between the printing roll 26 and the press roll 28 when printing is conducted. Further, the durability of the ink is ensured, so that its state when printed on the printing paper 1 is good.

That is, the ink is highly diluted in solvent at first. The solvent of the ink is volatilized to a predetermined level using the drying units in stages during the transferring process, thus increasing the cohesion of the ink and imparting the ink with durability against the nip pressure. Further, the deformation of the ink layer of the printing paper 1, completely separated from the silicone rubber having excellent separation capacity, is minimized, the line width is maintained without a change, and the ink layer is not broken due to the shape and durability thereof which are already provided on the printing roll 26. The leveling of the surface of the fine line and the roughness of the edge is already realized on the printing roll, so that a good result is achieved. This invention has hardening effect allowing inversion like a frying pan.

Further, a first pressure regulator 29 a is installed to regulate contact pressure between the forming roll 23 and the printing roll 26. A second pressure regulator 29 b is installed to regulate contact pressure between the printing roll 26 and the press roll 28. In this case, a pneumatic cylinder may be applied to each of the pressure regulators. The pneumatic cylinder always maintains constant pressure using a pressure control means (not shown).

As such, a constant impression pressure is always maintained by constant contact pressure between the rolls, which is automatically controlled, thus allowing uniform printing at a predetermined thickness to be achieved. Even if the gap of the forming roll 23 or the press roll 26 becomes narrower or wider due to failure during the operation, constant transfer pressure is maintained, so that the printing quality is almost constant. In this case, the printing roll 26 whose surface is made of elastomer primarily absorbs shocks.

Meanwhile, the respective rolls adopt a direct power transmission method using a synchronous control operation of a servomotor without a power transmission component. Thus, compared to the case having mechanical power transmission components (e.g. gears), the mechanical factors hindering precision, such as backlash or inertia error, are minimized. Further, it is not necessary to precisely manufacture the mechanical components at high cost. Thus, this invention is advantageous in terms of cost.

As described above, the present invention develops a new ink transfer method which is important in a printing unit, thus allowing a micro electronic circuit pattern having a micro line width of an IC chip, such as a thin film transistor, to be produced through a roll-to-roll lamination printing method. The invention improves the printing to have resolution of about 10 μm, which is difficult in general rotary pressing, thus permitting the use of the latest rotary press driving system, therefore being capable of economically producing a kilo-grade printed IC chip having a general function. Thereby, an industrial base for economically providing a vast number of RFID/USN electronic products required in a ubiquitous information age is realized.

Further, the present invention provides a printing method which is capable of promoting the research and development of materials required to manufacture an IC chip, such as conductive ink, semiconductor ink, or dielectric ink, and the new design of various kinds of IC chips or electronic parts made of the above-mentioned materials, thus providing proper production equipment for an MEMS using the printing method. The ink transfer method of the invention hardens a fine electronic circuit pattern having a micro line width during the ink transfer process, so that the printing is achieved on the printing paper without change to a shape even if impression pressure is applied. Thus, the invention realizes stable ink transfer especially in the case where an existing printing line is printed to overlap a print line having a different function.

Although the preferred embodiment of the present invention has been disclosed for illustrative purposes, those skilled in the art will appreciate that various modifications, additions and substitutions are possible, without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention as disclosed in the accompanying claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7913382 *Oct 22, 2007Mar 29, 2011Soligie, Inc.Patterned printing plates and processes for printing electrical elements
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Classifications
U.S. Classification101/180
International ClassificationB41F5/18
Cooperative ClassificationH05K2203/0534, H05K2203/1545, H05K3/207, H05K3/1275, H05K1/0393, H05K2203/0113, H05K2201/0133, H05K2203/0143
European ClassificationH05K3/12G
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 31, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: KOREA INSTITUTE OF MACHINERY & MATERIALS, KOREA, R
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CHOI, BYUNG-OH;RYU, BYUNG-SOON;LIM, KYU-JIN;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:017715/0763
Effective date: 20060303