Interaction between humans and machines is increasingly part of our daily lives, with wearable devices that monitor our vital signs, beds that measure our sleeping patterns and car interiors that interact with the driver. TNO at Holst Centre develops the technological solutions and functionalities to allow for this future to be realized, by developing printed electronic devices that can take on any form factor and function.
Expertise at work
By combining world-class research with an extensive portfolio of technologies, TNO finds innovative solutions to technical challenges in printed and flexible electronics. We work across the entire electronics value chain and collaborate with academia, material and equipment suppliers and end-users to develop market-ready innovations.
Unobtrusively measuring your health
TNO develops medical monitoring devices and smart clothing that provide us with the data to obtain new insights to improve our health and wellbeing. Inspired by the human skin, these devices are so thin and conformable that people do not notice wearing them. A good example is the clinically validated patch for cardiovascular monitoring that can be worn for seven days without people noticing its presence.
Surfaces that can sense
TNO creates adaptable, multisensory foils that can easily be integrated into everyday objects. These printed foils are highly conformable and can be equipped with the ability to sense physical phenomena such as temperature and pressure. Combined with the relevant data-analysis algorithms they can be used to create anything from battery management systems to mattresses that monitor a baby’s heart and breathing rate as it sleeps.
Industry is beginning to recognise the benefits of 3D printing: ultimate design freedom, mass customization, and just-in-time ‘local’ manufacturing. TNO is taking the next step by bringing printed electronics into the equation: 3D printing meets printed electronics.
Our 3D-printed-electronics technologies allow for electronics manufacturing with an unprecedented design freedom and integration simplicity with minimal environmental impact. It, for example, allows for highly integrated and miniaturized medical devices and instruments that cannot be made in other ways. But it also allows for many more functions to be integrated in semiconductor chips.
From everyday to cutting edge
In-mould electronics technology can turn everyday plastic objects such as a car dashboard into cutting edge, intuitive user experiences. From proximity detection to direct touch, from high-quality illumination and displays to force sensing and haptic feedback, TNO’s approach adds electronic functions to any plastic surface.
A single foil is printed with both graphics and electronics and then integrated into a plastic object through injection moulding or thermoforming. This increases design freedom, reduces costs and allows for the lightest-weight solutions.
New technologies and techniques
TNO is constantly exploring the possibilities for further innovation and new market applications. For example, TNO at Holst Centre is working on a new printing technology capable of printing high-resolution thick tracks at high throughputs, which could replace current wiring technologies in semiconductor chip packaging and displays.
We are also developing a new soldering technique – photonic soldering – in which intense flashes of light initiate the soldering process. This would allow a much higher throughput and soldering on substrates with low thermal budgets. Lastly, it is developing a laser-based mass transfer technology to enable fast and accurate placement of silicon components on flexible plastic substrates, such as for micro-LED displays.