Flexible nanoprinting set to dwarf semiconductor costs

A startup here at the White Bull conference in Barcelona said that nanomaterial components will be released in the first quarter of next year at a “fraction of the price” of conventional materials.

David Brown, CTO of Canatu said that one of the more expensive components of smartphones and tablets – touch sensors – will come into production in early 2013 using printing technology that requires manufacturing costs way below the price of current devices.

The nanomaterials are printed onto transparent substrates and allows gizmos to be built that are curved and flexible, using a simple component structure which offers better yields and lower costs than using older methods.

Canatu said: “We can beat competitors in every way. Touch will be available anywhere on any dry surface.”  The technology can be used to print on fabric too.

He said touch sensors are just the first application of a technique which has been five years in the making.  The devices use hybrid carbon nanotubes and Fullerene. “Printing electronics will be like printing papers,” he said.  The company has 120 patents already.

The company is seeking more investment so it can increase production of the technique. When it launches its current production will be 1,400 touch sensors a day.

Brown said that it is launching a product called Qii in the next couple of weeks.  He said the beauty of the technique is that capex is low. The technique will be able to offer prices which will seriously undercut existing components.

In the future, Canatu will offer flexible motherboards and other components using the same techniques.