Printing up the future of innovation with direct imaging lithography

The printing method called lithography has come a long way since its invention in Germany in the 1700s. Today, lithography prints text and images onto a variety of surfaces, from books to t-shirts.

A variation of this printing technology continues to spur new innovation. Called direct imaging photolithography, it’s being deployed by designers to “print” a variety of electronics products quickly and easily through a process that exposes photosensitive materials to ultraviolet (UV) light.

Modern direct imaging lithography can be used to make printed circuit boards (PCBs), ball Grid Arrays (BGA), chip scale packages (CSP), flat panel displays, real time barcode marking, and in direct computer-to-plate printing, a type of printing process in which a digital image is transmitted directly from a computer to a plate used on a press.

The benefits of direct imaging lithography are many, including greater material flexibility, reduced costs and greater printing speed when compared to traditional lithography techniques.

Direct imaging photolithography powered by TI

At TI, our DLP® high speed digital micromirror devices (DMDs) are a powerful option for direct imaging photolithography developers who require accuracy down to the micron, with fast exposure times for volume manufacturing and reduced operational costs.

Using programmable light steering DLP technology, a developer can directly expose patterns onto photoresist films without the need for contact masks. This reduces material cost, improves production rates and allows for rapid changes of the pattern, which is ideal when minimum feature sizes require double exposure.

TI’s highly flexible chipset architectures also provide multiple system control and connectivity options such as triggers for motor synchronization, sensors and other peripherals.

A typical system block diagram of DLP direct imaging lithography

See how DLP maskless lithography is reducing costs and increasing reliability for PCBs in this video