A Pittsburgh startup is performing a form of alchemy, converting gold and silver into ink that can be used in a variety of industries from automotives to consumer electronics to medical devices.
Liquid X Printed Metals, a spinoff of Carnegie Mellon University, has developed a proprietary technology to transform various metals into ink form, which is then deposited onto a wide variety of substrates. When heated at low temperatures, the ink converts to the base metal and exhibits comparable features such as high conductivity, thin and precise features, and excellent adhesion.
So, by using a high-tech form of ink jet printing, Liquid X inks can print a circuit that, when cured, conducts electricity. In the automotive industry, that technology “can replace miles of wiring with lightweight conductive materials,” explains CEO Greg Babe, creating lighter weight and more energy-efficient vehicles.
Liquid X’s technology is also highly cost effective.
“This technology eliminates waste,” adds Babe. “We use significantly less metal and in many cases metal is expensive.”
The company has patents pending and is preparing to launch its first commercial product in mid-2014. Liquid X is working with a variety of potential partners across the value chain, from end users such as touch screen manufacturers to makers of specialty glass and high-quality polymers, to printing technology companies.
Looking ahead, the company is developing its technology for use in 3-D printing.
Richard McCullough and John Belot founded Liquid X in 2010; Innovation Works was a recent investor. The company currently employs eight, and Babe anticipates adding jobs as the company grows.
By Elise Vider | March 13, 2014
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