I have always enjoyed listening to Ella Fitzgerald. Her performance of “How high the moon” gives me goosebumps. Ella is also a nickname for TactoTek project on characterizing conductive ink suitability for thermoforming. It is nearly 10 years since TactoTek first discussed the need for such a method with our partners. Ella project started in 2019, and last year the team reached the goal. They had developed a test method and equipment for measuring conductive ink resistance during elongation at elevated temperatures, such as 150 ℃. This method gives valuable information on how much conductive inks can elongate before an electric break and how their resistance changes prior to it.
In the future, International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) will publish a standard on this method, the work is done in TC119 (TC = Technical Committee). The title of the standard will be “Resistance measurement method on thermoformable conducting layer”. Currently, I am writing its Final draft of International Standard (FDIS). Up on successful review by IEC National Committees, this standard will be published.
Traditionally, the purpose of standardization has been to consolidate best practices. At first, a group of experts have met and shared their views. They have debated them, maybe made more studies with simulations, measurements, and analysis. Finally, the group of experts has come up with a method that all agree with. They document the method and subject it to reviews. Once the reviews are passed, it is published as a standard. This way, more companies can implement the best practice.
TactoTek sees that standardization will speed up the industrialization of structural electronics technologies such as our Injection Molded Structural Electronics (IMSE). Thus, TactoTek wants to disseminate some of its knowledge through standardization work, making sure that the technology can find future needs at the marketplace. When we and our partners create standards that make sense to the market, we are speeding up the industrialization of IMSE. This will benefit the whole supply chain as well as bring novel, space saving and sustainable products to the market.
I started working with standardization in 2018 and my first task was to identify suitable organizations. Five years ago, no one was creating standards for IMSE or similar technologies. However, two organizations had published standards for printed electronics: International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and Association Connecting Electronics Industries (IPC). IEC launched the Technical Committee for Printed Electronics (TC119) in 2012 and has published about 30 standards. IPC launched a committee for printed electronics (D-60) in 2011 and has published about 10 standards. Recently both organizations have widened their scope to additionally cover structural electronics technologies such as IMSE. We at TactoTek are very pleased about that, it is great to have two potential “homes” for the standard development.
Standard development requires contributions from several experts at various companies. The work is voluntary and companies need to commit staff and resources for this. The staff at standardization organizations is also important, their facilitation keeps the wheels turning. Standard development also requires time, rather years than months. IEC as calculated that an average time for standard development is 2.8 years. I have not seen any numbers for IPC but expect the time to be similar.
This can seem like a long time. However, some standards have been used for decades. An example is IEC 60068-1: Environmental testing - Part 1: General and guidance. IEC published its first version already in 1960 and it has since been revised several times. Making a standard that has been used for over 60 years is truly commendable. I think that all of us working on standardization can feel proud, our time and efforts makes a difference.