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Printed silver circuits for FMCG packaging

David Tudor Gethin (Swansea University, Swansea, UK)
Eifion Huw Jewell (Swansea University, Swansea, UK)
Tim Charles Claypole (Swansea University, Swansea, UK)

Circuit World

ISSN: 0305-6120

Article publication date: 18 November 2013




Printed flexible circuits that combined conventional silicon technology will enable the realisation of many value added products such as smart packaging for the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry. This paper aims to describe an investigation into integrating silicon and printable circuits for the FMCG packaging industry and this would allow products with features such as brand protection, time temperature indicators, customer feedback and visual product enhancement. Responding to interest from the FMCG packaging industry, an investigation was carried out which investigated the printing conductive silver ink on common packaging substrates.


Standard IC mounting patterns were screen printed using two conductive silver materials (one high silver content traditional paste and one lower silver content gel polymer) to four plastic and three paper substrates which represent common FMCG substrates (HDPE, BOPP, PET and three paper substrates). Materials were characterised in terms of material rheology whereas prints were characterised through electrical performance and printed film topology.


There was a significant interaction between the substrate, silver ink formulation and the resultant line quality, line topology and conductivity. On paper substrates, the absorption of binder into the substrate resulted in denser silver packing and higher conductivity for the paste material. Higher conductivities were obtained on the substrates capable of withstanding higher curing temperatures. On the polymer substrates higher conductivity could be obtained by lower content silver materials due to the denser particle packing in the cured ink film as a result of its higher solvent/lower solids components.

Research limitations/implications

Further work should examine the interactions for other printing processes commonly used in the FMCG industry such as rotogravure of flexography and should also examine nano particle materials. Further work should also address the mechanical adhesion of silicon logic on the substrates and bottlenecks in processing.

Practical implications

The lower silver content gel material potentially provides material cost reduction by a factor of between 4 and 7 for the same conductivity. The gel material also has potential for more uniform performance across all substrate types. Typically 3.1 Ω/cm resistance values are achieved on all substrates for 300 micron lines.


For those in the field of smart packaging the work has highlighted the interaction between silver materials and non PET/PEN substrates in flexible printed circuits. It has demonstrated the implications of rheology, substrate absorbency and materials processing temperature on circuit design. For those seeking printing process understanding it has provided further validation to support material transfer mechanisms in the screen printing process.



Tudor Gethin, D., Huw Jewell, E. and Charles Claypole, T. (2013), "Printed silver circuits for FMCG packaging", Circuit World, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 188-194.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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