TERASEL; a European effort for manufacturing randomly shaped electronic circuits

October 09, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
An EU Seventh Framework Programme project to develop a targeted industrial production chain merges key electronics and polymer industry competences.

Belgian research organisation Imec and project partners have announced the launch of TERASEL (Thermo-plastically deformable circuits for embedded randomly shaped electronics), a project under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for Information and Communication Technologies (FP7). The overall goal of the project is the development, industrial implementation and application of large-area, cost-effective, randomly shaped electronics and sensor circuit technologies.

Conventionally, electronics are made on flat substrates. The TERASEL project will develop a basic technology platform for rigid large-area randomly shaped electronic circuits. To achieve this, a process to embed elastic flat circuits in thermo-plastically deformable polymers will be developed. Then, a high pressure, low temperature thermoforming technology to deform the circuit into its random final functional shape will be developed.

TERASEL will also set up a complete multi-competence industrial production chain, capable to achieve mature, near-to-production industrial processes for manufacturing randomly shaped circuits. The developed technologies will be applied in a number of functional prototype demonstrators, such as television sets with ambient illumination, free-form man-machine interfaces, intelligent car interior components, 2.5D lighting devices, and household appliances.

“TERASEL will draw upon the synergy and collaboration between partners in the electronics circuit fabrication and assembly industry and polymer processing industry”, said Jan Vanfleteren, Project Manager at imec. “By merging the two industries' competences and expertise, the project will produce an exciting new range of products for a wide set of application domains.”

Over the next three years, TERASEL will be coordinated by imec, through imec's associated laboratory located at the Ghent University (Center for Microsystems Technology (CMST)). Industrial, academic and research partners will bring their expertise to the project. Project partners are Centro Ricerche Fiat (Italy), Fraunhofer IZM, Freudenberg Forschungsdienste, Niebling (Germany), Nief Plastic, Association Pôle Européen de Plasturgie (France), TNO/Holst Centre, Philips Lighting (Netherlands), plastic electronic (Austria), ACB, Page Electronica, Quad Industries, TP Vision and Fundico (Belgium).

Imec; www.imec.be