This is a diverse and promising space. In one manifestation, spray-on inks are targeting package-level EMI shielding. Here, they hope to displace sputtering, the incumbent, which benefits from sunk CapEx and lower material consumption costs. They offer low CapEx production in atmospheric conditions and better conformal coverage. Others are developing inkjet printing solutions, highlighting the ability to control thickness uniformity and to deposit only on required areas. Jetted or dispensed inks are also being proposed for in-package EMI isolation between individual dies in a multi-die package especially for high-frequency devices. These are hot growth potential in which the decisions are being made today. In particular, the expected rise of multi-IC packages with embedded antennas targeting 5G will fuel demand for package-level shielding. Indeed, the transition from board to package-level shielding is a megatrend that will stay.
Suppliers are differentiating on multiple fronts. First is performance. Here, they experiment with different ink types. Some propose micron-sized, prioritizing cost and maturity. Flat flakes offer higher conductivity if aligned well. Others develop nano or even particle-free inks, offering to offer the thinnest solution with the best adhesion and shielding properties. Most offer a hybrid solution, sitting somewhere between full nano to full micro and full spherical to full flake type.
This may not be enough. Suppliers are taking steps to make it as easy as possible to adopt the product. Some position themselves as possible full solution providers, integrating their inks with curing units to minimize customers’ learning curve and adoption barriers. Some go even further, proposing mechanisms to fine-tune layer thickness post-deposition to locally boost performance in EMI hotspots. In general, this continues to be a dynamic and rapidly evolving area.
There are further manifestations of conformal printing. Aerosol has had some success in the past, but some products have reached their end of life. Here we are seeing new inks emerge which offer ultra-low temperature curing with strong adhesion making more substrate materials compatible with aerosol metallization.
To learn more please see IDTechEx’s Report “Conductive Ink Markets 2019-2029: Forecasts, Technologies, Players”; it provides a detailed analysis of conductive inks related developments in EMI shielding and other conformal printing techniques, identifying and covering players worldwide, examining latest application and adoption trends, offering insights about challenges and future opportunities, and providing market forecasts.