Epson have announced the commencement of research at their new Cambridge Inkjet
Open Laboratory in the UK. The new facilities have been set up to explore new
industrial applications for inkjet technology, and will be part of the company's
Cambridge Research Laboratory. The new laboratory is the second to be built after
the Inkjet Open Laboratory, which was opened in July at Seiko Epson's Suwa Minami
Plant in Japan.
Epson is well known throughout the world for its high-quality photo printers
that employ its original inkjet technology. The company has spent many years
developing revolutionary micro liquid processes that form the base of this inkjet
technology. Micro liquid processes involve the high-precision placement of ink
droplets measured in picoliters (1,000 billionth of a liter) and nanograms (1,000
millionth of a gram) to draw patterns directly and make films of uniform thickness,
with possible future applications existing in genetic sciences and molecular
factories. In particular, Epson believes that inkjet technology could be used
to reduce the large number of photolithographic processes used in the manufacture
of semiconductors to between one and three processes. This would reduce the
environmental burden by reducing the materials discarded during photolithography
by more than 90%.
The potential for inkjet methods in production technology has come under increasing
focus in recent years. However, it is still a relatively new field, and further
research is required to develop industrial applications. Seiko Epson believes
that micro liquid processes offer many opportunities as an energy and resource
saving production technology. Following on from the Suwa Minami Inkjet Open
Laboratory, the new Inkjet Open Laboratory has been established with the aim
of working with laboratory users to employ inkjet technology to develop products
with volume production potential and to establish new applications.
The new facilities have an area of approximately 5,000 square feet (464.5 meters),
which comprise 3,000 square feet (278.7 meters) of laboratory space and 2,000
square feet (185.8 meters) for administration.
As with the Suwa Minami Inkjet Open Laboratory, the new laboratory will be
used to verify the potential for production and reliability of inkjet technology
in addition to testing applications for the technology. The results of the research
will be used by laboratory users in the development of their joint business
and for expansion into new business fields.