Facility update

By Chris Weirman 24 March 2015

The final months of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 have seen a great deal of activity at the SPECIFIC
pilot facility. The equipment set in the pilot facility clean room is continually being expanded
providing an environment where rapid pilot manufacture of new printing / coating materials can be
carried out. Sheets from A5 to 1.4 m2 can be processed and two continuous reel to reel processing
lines have also been installed. The 300 mm wide pilot line is now operational and has been fitted
with two Tescan continuous capture cameras which allow high resolution digital images of every
metre of material to be logged after printing and after drying / curing. This provides through run
traceability as well as immediate feedback during operation. For flexible substrates, the smartcoater
has been installed which allows development of a continuous process with lower material use at 110
mm wide substrates. This has proved a valuable addition to the toolkit and has been instrumental in
developing transparent conductive coatings to plastic substrates.

Outside the clean room, the pilot manufacturing resource centre laboratories equipment set has
been expanded to include high end pieces of equipment such as the FEG SEM, XRD and Raman
spectroscopy as well as a host of smaller pieces of equipment which are the bedrock of a laboratory
for coatings development. As the equipment set has grown, so has the activity and with researchers
from a diverse set disciplines using it as the home for their work. Since its official opening in early
summer 2014, the PMRC has seen over 800 visitors and the open viewing layout of the facilities has
proved an excellent means of showcasing capability with minimal impact on work. Additional
technician support has also drafted in to ensure that all the equipment is kept in its prime condition
and that equipment alterations or additions can be made rapidly. For more information on the pilot
facility clean room, its laboratories and its capabilities please contact Eifion Jewell
(e.jewell@swansea.ac.uk) or Chris Weirman (chris.weirman@tatasteel.com).


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