Seiko Epson (“Epson“) has agreed to invest in printed electronics startup Elephantech and the parties have entered into a partnership agreement that includes the supply of inkjet printheads.
Elephantech is a startup that manufactures and sells flexible printed circuits (FPC) manufactured using inkjet printing and electroless copper plating. The company uses a proprietary manufacturing method (Japan patent no. 6300213) in which metal materials are printed only on the required areas of a board surface and then grown using plating technology. This method, which is shorter than a conventional lithographic FPC production process, offers benefits in the form of lower environmental impacts, lower manufacturing costs, and shorter times.
One of Epson’s strategies under its Epson 25 Corporate Vision is to accelerate growth by taking maximum advantage of its existing assets and by engaging in collaboration and open innovation. In inkjet, Epson is seeking more open innovation opportunities and is expanding external sales of printheads based on its PrecisionCore technology. The partnership with Elephantech, which has a large potential customer base, is a specific example of this. Epson expects the collaborative partnership with Elephantech to accelerate the use of inkjet printheads in industrial applications such as printed electronics, a priority area for Epson. Moving forward, Epson will create new markets by aggressively pursuing opportunities to provide inkjet printheads and related information for a wider range of printing applications.
Elephantech, with funding from Epson, is on a mission to make the world sustainable with new manufacturing technologies. Toward this end, it is expanding its inkjet-printed FPC manufacturing operations and creating markets by developing a broader range of applications for its technology, such as technology for forming wiring patterns on 3D plastic objects and the printing of biomaterials.
Elephantech CEO Shinya Shimizu said, “The environmental impact of global manufacturing continues to grow and is set to exceed the level that the earth can absorb, making it harder and harder to claim sustainability. I believe that additive, inkjet-based manufacturing processes in which material is printed only where it is needed will become the global standard in manufacturing, replacing existing subtractive processes in which material that is not needed is removed and disposed of. We have and will continue to a technology revolution toward low-waste manufacturing processes.”
Epson President Minoru Usui said, “We at Epson are committed to playing a central role as an indispensable company in making the world a better place, and toward that end, we are creating new value that can help solve societal challenges and achieve sustainability. Innovations in manufacturing processes using Epson’s inkjet printheads, which have competitive edge in terms of printing performance, environmental performance, and ink compatibility, are a core part of our strategy. The collaboration with Elephantech in printed electronics is an extremely important first step toward reaching our goal of driving innovation in global manufacturing by creating new, more compact, inkjet-based production processes that have a lower environmental impact.”
The investment of capital in Elephantech will have a negligible effect on Epson’s financial results.
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