AMS Spring 2023

FUJIFILM to Manufacture Conductive Materials from Electroninks

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Electroninks, an Austin-based maker/supplier of advanced manufacturing materials, announced that the company has entered into a contract manufacturing agreement with FUJIFILM Imaging Colorants Inc., a division under the umbrella of Japanese optics conglomerate FUJIFILM. Per the agreement, select silver inks from Electroninks’ portfolio of particle-free, conductive printable metals will be manufactured at Imaging Colorants Inc.’s New Castle, Delaware facility, one of the largest inkjet manufacturing facilities in the world.

Electroninks has rapidly established a niche for itself within the increasingly important electronics printing market segment of the additive manufacturing (AM) sector. As the company points out in the press release concerning its agreement with FUJIFILM, the future for that market segment was also recently bolstered by the CHIPS and Science Act, which the Biden administration signed into law this past August. That act set into motion over $50 billion in federal funding towards domestic semiconductor R&D and manufacturing.

Image courtesy of Electroninks

In a press release about Electroninks’ and FUJIFILM’s contract manufacturing agreement, the general manager at FUJIFILM Imaging Colorants, Melissa Toledo, commented, “FUJIFILM is proud to partner with an innovator like Electroninks. Our dedicated expert teams have been working in close collaboration on technology transfer and scale-up of lab formulations to deliver precision manufactured, quality assured inks.” Sima Hannani, the team-lead engineer at Electroninks, added, “Developing semiconductor packaging solutions with our high performing materials combined with world-class manufacturing will now become more accessible for our current and future global customers.”

Image courtesy of FUJIFILM

Given how recently it was that Electroninks’ latest products hit the market — the company only made its inks available at production-scale about 6 months ago — the speed with which it has reached a contract agreement with a globally-consequential manufacturer is notable. Particularly, the achievement is noteworthy given the similar newness of electronics printing applications, when compared to the rest of the AM sector.

Additionally, the idea of that specific scale-up happening sooner rather than later dovetails with other current developments in the AM sector, in a way that starts to raise questions about the potential linkups between all the various trajectories. As has also come to light from at least a couple of announcements over the last few months, the scale-up of the market for AM metal powders seems to be accelerating ahead of next year. Therefore, the possibility to combine different printed end-use parts into larger wholes is becoming a more and more realistic concept.

Along those lines, beyond potentially marking the beginning of the AM sector’s debut in earnest, 2023 could also evolve into a real-time experiment in the formation of an entire AM-centered, advanced manufacturing economy. Much of it likely won’t be very pretty, and many companies that have established names for themselves thus far may not be holding up very well by 2024. On the other hand, companies that have created unique, coherent visions for themselves, and worked diligently to ensure that they have a purpose in the broader economy, could be household names in less than two years. It is of course too early to tell, but as of right now Electroninks seems to be safely within the latter category.

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