The coating process presents a major challenge to developers and manufacturers of fuel cells. Many of the coatings used in fuel cell manufacturing are suspensions and may contain precious metals, carbon, and ceramics, among others. These materials are often expensive, require specialized liquid delivery systems, and often clog nozzle-based spray technologies. USI’s coating systems, featuring patented, nozzle-less ultra-Thin Coating Application Technology (tCAT), are proven for the precise deposition of catalyst inks, electrolyte materials, slurries, and other proprietary materials, critical to PEM, DMFC and SOFC fuel cell production. The PRISM-400 BT and the PRISM-500 systems are ideal for R&D and small to mid-volume production; the PRISM-800 system is engineered for high volume production requirements.
Maximize materials usage, lower BOM costs, and increase manufacturing efficiency with more precise, more reliable coating systems from USI.
USI’s core technology is called tCAT, a proprietary nozzle-less ultra-Thin Coating Application Technology for the thin, uniform application of a wide variety of coatings from pure solutions to high-solids suspensions and slurries. tCAT utilizes “nozzle-less” ultrasonic spray technology combined with a precision metering pump liquid delivery system, which are part of a coating system platform with a motion and positioning system for the spray head, and a transport system for the substrates to be coated.
How it Works
The Ultra-Spray head is an integrated assembly consisting of an ultrasonic transducer with a spray forming tip, a liquid applicator and air directors. The ultrasonic transducer vibrates at an ultrasonic frequency (> 20 kHz). The particular ultrasonic frequency is selected based upon the material to be sprayed and the coating application requirements. In general, a lower frequency ultrasonic transducer is capable of spraying a higher viscosity liquid and producing higher flow rates. The amplitude of vibration of the spray-forming tip is also set with the ultrasonic generator.
The coating liquid is delivered to the spray-forming tip on the ultrasonic transducer by liquid applicator. The liquid is stored in a reservoir and fed to the liquid applicator at a precisely controlled flow rate by a positive displacement Precision Metering Pump (PMP). The ultrasonic vibrations of the spray-forming tip break up the liquid into small drops and propel them from the tip in the form of a spray. The spray produced with ultrasonic energy alone has a very low velocity “sheet-like” pattern.
Air directors are used to produce air streams to shape and accelerate the ultrasonically-produced spray. The air director impinges a jet of air on tip of the spray head opposite the liquid feed side. The resulting airflow entrains and expands the ultrasonically-produced spray to produce a flat (rectilinear) pattern up to five (5) times the width of the pattern produced by the ultrasonic energy alone. When using the air directors, the spray pattern width is a function of the spray-forming tip width and tip-to-substrate distance.
Configurable, flexible platform to suit the requirements of precison coating applications in various markets, including:
- Semiconductor Packaging
- Fuel Cell
- Electronics Assembly