LONDON Novalia has filed patent applications for a system to produce simple circuitry that has implications for the packaging, pharmaceutical, retail and leisure industries. The start-up has developed a technique for printing electronic circuitry onto packaging using conventional printing techniques.
The system of printed electronics being pioneered by Novalia (Cambridge, England) has been brought about by advances in organic electronics. Organic semiconductors are a material that can be coated and patterned on flexible substrates to create transistors and other electronic devices. They have properties that enable simple circuits to be printed over large areas on conventional low-cost thin and flexible substrates such as cardboard or plastics.
The Novalia process uses the same printing techniques and equipment that are currently employed. The company discusses a concept with a client – a promotion, brand-linking, an ongoing game, product verification, or whatever may be required – and, considering the types of materials and processes that are available, put forward a concept to add value and functionality to the packaging.
Novalia is working with a printing company to manufacture a printed electronic-based trading card game. The concept uses printed silver tracks on the card to enable a type of logic functionality allowing the cards to ‘compete’. Two cards selected by children are slotted into a simple master device, produced in the same way, but with a slim battery built-in, and light emitting diodes determine which of the two cards is the winner.
“If you want to include a game with your box of breakfast cereal, why not print it on the box itself, when the box is printed,” said Stone. “This saves costs and differentiates the brand at the same time.”
Dr.Nick Stone, who developed the technology, is aware of the potential dangers in the world market. “Ideas, on their own, have little commercial value and, of course, are vulnerable,” he says. “So, from the beginning, I have been working closely with patent attorneys Venner Shipley, ensuring that each development is fully protected by patents, which then add a clear marketable value to my concepts.”
Dr Nick Stone with a typical example of a conventionally printed electrical circuit.