Beyond prototyping in industry, additive manufacturing can facilitate the creation of complex semiconductors. This is Hummink’s concept. The start-up, which announced this Wednesday, November 9, 2022 to raise 5 million euros, wishes “contribute its know-how on the deposit of metals and the formulation of inks” to the electronics sector as described by its co-founder and COO Pascal Boncenne.
Impression relies on capillarity
The start-up was founded in 2020 by Pascal Boncenne and Amin M’Barki. It has developed a technology that can be described as “the smallest fountain pen in the world”, according to Pascal Boncenne. The 3D printer makes it possible to draw patterns with metallic materials in the field of electronics. Technology from a physics laboratory at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris.
To achieve the deposit, the machine relies on the phenomenon of capillarity. “A drop hangs at the end of a small glass capillaryexplains Pascal Boncenne. When it comes into contact with an object, the drop is deposited by capillarity. Conversely, additive manufacturing systems based on injection or spray technologies require a lot of power to extrude a small drop, which is not a problem with the capillary technique.
The machine allows “deposit a specific quantity of materials in one place”, adds the co-founder. As a result, Hummink promises a reduction in costs thanks to a reduction in energy consumption and the use of materials, as well as an increase in production speed. Concretely, Hummink comes to compete with the technique of lithography for the manufacture of semiconductors.
Hummink claims to have developed the smallest fountain pen in the world.
But the start-up is not intended to eradicate all lithography. It targets the most complex components with high added value. For example, CNES has used this technology for on-board electronics in flying equipment. This niche market is just one example. Hummink is more generally targeting three-dimensional integrated circuits (3D packaging) and “redistribution layer” technology (the fact of adding an additional metallic layer) which are mass markets.
Nazca, the first printer
Deep tech raised an initial fundraising of 700,000 euros in 2020 in order to identify the most promising markets, forge partnerships and establish the first commercial product. Objectives achieved since it carries out this second fundraising, with Sensinnovat, Elaia Partners, PSL, Beeyond and Bpifrance. The start-up has thus developed its “first machine which aims to democratize technology” 3D printing, as Pascal Boncenne explains. Called Nazca, it is mainly intended for research laboratories.
The tool is part of a race for the smallest and most complex electronic components possible. This 3D printer is an advantage for industrial and academic players who may struggle with assembling and interconnecting components. Hummink explains power “trace interconnections between electronic chips with a simple and more accessible method than existing standards”summarizes Pascal Boncenne.
Hummink aims for mass production
“The pitfall of additive manufacturing is to be confined to prototyping”, blows the co-founder. A pitfall that the young shoot obviously wants to avoid by highlighting the advantages of its printer for mass production. This fundraising aims to commercially deploy its first product. Hummink claims to have designed a machine that meets 90% of the needs of the electronics and semiconductor market, since it is versatile enough to address different use cases by simply changing the pipette. This pipette is the main variable since it corresponds to the size of the tip and determines the width of the line that can be achieved (between 100 nanometers and 50 microns). The young shoot has also formulated and developed inks adapted to its needs.
On the industrialization side, it explains that it wants to market its solution in the form of licenses, in particular to equipment manufacturers, who will be able to add this manufacturing module in the factories. She assures that a large Japanese industrialist is very interested in his machine and that the first collaborations with industrialists should quickly be announced. The cost of this printer? Several hundred thousand euros. Hummink wants to sell around ten machines a year.
While seeking to market its solution quickly, the nugget is continuing its R&D efforts. For example, she works on a matrix of pens. The objective here is to “demonstrate that such use is feasible, proclaims the co-founder, in order to increase production speed or make deposits with different materials at the same time.” In the meantime, its first printer will be installed at the University of Paris Cité, which is part of the French association for printed electronics.
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