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Scrona Rolls out GEN3 Printhead for High-Precision Manufacturing, Raises $4 Million

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ETH Zurich spin-off Scrona has raised $4 million through Convertible Loan Agreement (CLA) financing, bringing its total funding to $15.2 million. Known for its advanced technology that can create tiny, high-precision features at high speeds, Scrona is making headway in microfabrication for semiconductor packaging and display manufacturing. This latest investment will accelerate the commercialization of its newly launched GEN3 printhead platform, an eight-nozzle system designed for volume production.

In an interview with 3DPrint.com, Scrona’s Co-founder and CTO Patrick Galliker and new CEO Patrick Heisler said the brand’s innovations have powerful implications for many industries.

“Our technology is capable of addressing the limitations of conventional manufacturing methods by offering greater precision and efficiency,” noted Galliker. “We can achieve micron-level resolution and higher throughput, making a notable impact on the semiconductor industry. This is not just about improving existing processes but also enabling new possibilities.”

A Switzerland-based company, Scrona began its journey as a project during the founders’ PhD studies at ETH Zurich. Officially founded in 2014, the company didn’t fully transition into a functioning business until 2018, following its first significant investment and independence from the Swiss university. This was when things got rolling toward commercializing their technology.

Scrona developed the industry’s first multi-nozzle electrostatic printing platform, using MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) chips with digital control to achieve ultra-high resolution and throughput. Unlike conventional inkjet printing, which pushes droplets from the nozzle, Scrona’s electrostatic printing pulls droplets using an electric force. This method is more efficient and allows for printing ultra-small droplets for sub-micrometer precision, which is key for advanced manufacturing applications, explains Galliker.

Its proprietary technology is based on the electrostatic ejection principle, which provides very fine, submicron-scale printing and jetting while allowing the adoption of various ink materials—such as metals, dielectrics, organic, and biomaterials.

In July 2024, Scrona introduced its new GEN3 printhead platform, designed for mass manufacturing and featuring its proprietary electrostatic MEMS architecture. The digital eight-nozzle version will ship to first customers this month, with a 128-nozzle version scheduled for later this year.

Although the current printouts operate with eight nozzles, the company has a very fast route to developing more nozzle columns. Galliker explained that the 15-person team working in-house has already succeeded in producing and testing a 48-nozzle version in less than a week.

“It worked flawlessly in the tests,” said Galliker, indicating that scaling up from an eight-nozzle to a 128-nozzle version is feasible and can be done quickly.

However, the 48-nozzle printhead cannot operate all nozzles individually; they function as an array, meaning all nozzles turn on or off together. In contrast, the fully digital eight-nozzle version that is now available allows individual control of each nozzle, revealing greater precision.

“The GEN3 platform offers significant flexibility to a market that is notoriously inflexible, and that is really doing everything bottom up additively. Also, the platform has the potential to scale to higher numbers of nozzles quickly,” rounds up Galliker.

Heisler also points out that with the launch of the GEN3 printhead, Scrona is ready to bring its technology to a wider commercial market by the end of the third quarter of 2024.

“This shift from R&D to a commercially ready product represents a big change for our company, allowing us to meet the needs of our industrial customers more effectively. The GEN3 printhead’s high-resolution capabilities and versatility will enable us to tackle various industry requirements, driving our growth and market expansion. Additionally, we have developed a system capable of multi-nozzle printing with high yield and robotic assembly, which evolved alongside our manufacturing process, preparing us for the next phase of industrial application,” remarked Heisler.

3D printed electronics produced using Scrona’s technology

Ready to disrupt many industries, Scrona’s technology has already set a world record for the smallest color picture ever printed. This level of detail is essential for applications in the semiconductor and display industries, where even the slightest variations can impact performance and quality.

One of the most promising uses of Scrona’s technology is in advanced semiconductor packaging. As traditional methods for making transistors and chips become too expensive, new packaging techniques are necessary. Scrona claims its print engine is a less costly alternative to traditional methods, potentially cutting costs by ten times.

In the display technology sector, Scrona’s electrostatic printing can help solve current problems in microLED and OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display production. The technology’s precise control of layer thickness makes it possible to create bright, full-color microLED displays, which are essential for things like augmented reality glasses.

Moreover, the company has developed several applications for its technology, such as in life sciences and healthcare, to deposit peptides or nanoparticles and functionalized nanoparticles precisely into the right positions. This flexibility and wide adoptability mean they want to expand the technology beyond the semiconductor and display markets.

To support many of the innovative applications for their printhead, the company created the Scrona LabPrinter in collaboration with Notion-Systems for cutting-edge R&D in additive microfabrication. However, Scrona’s machine is not just confined to the lab; customers also use this system in practical, real-world industrial settings, and it is being scaled up to meet larger production demands. Scrona’s $4 million investment accelerates the commercial rollout of its GEN3 printhead platform, promising to redefine precision manufacturing capabilities.

All images courtesy of Scrona.

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