The rapidly shrinking size of components in consumer electronics makes it increasingly difficult to manufacture connections between them. This is the domain of ‘advanced packaging’: connecting chips in a 3D structure at micrometre scale. At Holst Centre, TNO has developed a revolutionary method to do just that at super-high speed. International manufacturers are already lining up to take advantage of this development.


Huge global market

The invention, which has been called Impulse Printing™, will be marketed from 2023 by the spin-off FononTech. And that global market is huge and continues to grow. The spin-off estimates that it will double to 65 billion US dollars over the next 5 years. FononTech’s ambition is to become a global leader in microelectronics assembly.

Highly complex super-small structures

Back in 2010, TNO worked with partners at Holst Centre to develop a technology for printing microelectronics. Laser Induced Forward Transfer (LIFT) enabled laser-controlled deposition of both solid and liquid materials on any substrate. Through various intermediate steps, the technology has now advanced from light particles (photons) to the application of heat conduction (phonons). Impulse Printing™ is a method for printing highly complex and super-small structures to package chips even more efficiently.

High volumes

FononTech expects this technology to be essential for making electronic products in the near future and to become an indispensable part of the production process. The ‘packaging’ of chips is currently done in a traditional way for bulk electronics. Further miniaturisation and integrated electronics require better performance and greater functionality.

Impulse Printing™ is the appropriate technology to assemble all these joints in 3D on a minute surface, as it also allows unprecedented speeds and therefore very high volumes. This also explains the interest shown by OSAT (outsourced semiconductor assembly and test) companies, which can use it to reach much higher production speeds.

Ecological footprint 1.000 times smaller

The machine that FononTech is building is an industrial printer with wafers that can use all common inks and make prints on an area of 128 by 128 millimetres. The circuit boards can be used more than 1,000 times. Because they work on the basis of additive manufacturing, there is hardly any material waste. This reduces the impact of Impulse Printing™ on the environment by a factor of 1,000.