Intellivation Celebrates 15 Years of System and Engineering Excellence

Intellivation Celebrates 15 Years of System and Engineering Excellence

Founded in January 13, 2009, Intellivation marks 15 years of excellence in equipment engineering and manufacturing. Originally established in Tucson, Arizona, and then relocated to Colorado in 2012, Intellivation now operates in a >50,000 ft2 purpose-built facility dedicated to manufacturing and building state of the art vacuum deposition equipment. Recent expansions of both the facility and the team were necessary to support customers’ needs in the growing technology areas Intellivation serves. As a vertically integrated original equipment manufacturer, we offer the unique ability to design, manufacture, assemble, and commission complete systems in-house.

“We are thrilled to be sharing this significant milestone with our customers, suppliers, and team, as we mark the celebration of our 15th anniversary having executed our mission of becoming a world leading supplier of thin film vacuum deposition systems. Growth and re-investment in ourselves have proven to be a recipe for success in our business and we are proud of the solutions we provide. We continue to invest in providing process and product support for our customers by operating an in-house Intellivation R2R Lab which allows customers the opportunity to develop, fine tune and modify new and existing products and transition them in to production-ready solutions.” Mike Simmons, President and CEO states, “Our team has engineered, machined and built R2R solutions while providing continuous improvement and process support for a wide range of customers and applications, including recent work in turning continuous coated films into patterned circuits for wearable sensors and other emerging flexible circuit technology areas. The Intellivation Team’s commitment to excellence and dedication to delivering systems that meet or exceed demanding end-use requirements made this possible. Our team has truly been exemplary in their drive to surpass customer expectations and develop intelligent, unique solutions. We look forward to building on this track record and accomplishing more in the years ahead.”

Intellivation is a leading manufacturer of vacuum web coating equipment featuring unique and innovative state-of-the-art design with powerful automation. We offer R2R Series vacuum coaters and metallizers in widths from 330mm to 2m which can include rotary and planar magnetrons, evaporation technology, substrate pretreatment, and in-situ monitoring. Our on-site Application Lab featuring R2R330 and R2R600 roll-to-roll vacuum coaters provides the ability to support customers’ thin film coating development on flexible substrates including metal foils, polymers, textiles, nonwovens, flexible glass and flexible ceramics. We provide solutions for technically challenging applications including but not limited to medical devices, energy storage, superconductors, optics, flexible electronics, solar and other functional coatings.

We continue to grow and currently are hiring for multiple positions. Please contact jobs@intellivation.com for information or visit our Indeed posts.

Job Postings – INTELLIVATION | Engineered Solutions

Advancements in Laser Patterning of Sputtered Coatings for High-Volume Production of Flexible Microelectronic Devices

by Mike Simmons, president and CEO; Matthew Kleyn, Joseph Vlach, and Liz Josephson, Intellivation LLC

In the fast-evolving landscape of electronics, the demand for high-performance devices with enhanced functionalities, such as mechanical flexibility, continues to grow. One notable technology that has garnered significant attention is the use of 2D devices. These materials, such as graphene and MoS2, exhibit unique electrical and mechanical properties that make them ideal for flexible electronic applications and enable high-rate roll-to-roll fabrication. To meet the rising demand and requirements for flexible 2D microelectronics devices, we are exploring innovative manufacturing techniques including the use of vacuum coatings in combination with laser technology. Laser patterning of sputtered coatings has emerged as a promising method for achieving high-volume production with precision, functionality and efficiency for a wide range of flexible applications.

Sputtered Coatings as a Foundation

Sputter deposition is a widely used technique for depositing thin films onto substrates. In the context of flexible 2D microelectronics, sputtered coatings serve as the foundation for building functional devices. Sputtering involves bombarding a target material with ions to eject atoms or molecules, which then deposit onto a substrate to form a thin film. This process allows for precise control over the thickness and composition of the deposited film, making it a preferred method for creating uniform and reproducible coatings. Sputtered layers were deposited using Intellivation’s R2R Lab system.

Laser Patterning for Precision and Scalability

While sputtering provides an excellent method for depositing coatings uniformly over large areas, laser patterning adds the ability to create discrete devices, circuits, and other types of discontinuous features in the manufacturing process. Using these two techniques in combination provides unique capabilities, particular during product development. Traditional methods of patterning such as photolithography involve multiple steps and can be time-consuming. Traditional thin film patterning methods require masks, templates and other components that require geometric commitment at an early stage of design, this can result in drastically slowed development and is impacted by any change during the development. Masks also limit features to larger sizes and result in variation of feature dimensions and edge quality over the life of the mask. Laser patterning on the other hand offers a direct and efficient way to create and define patterns on sputtered coatings including changes in geometry by redefining the path of the laser, while providing consistent feature size and edge quality.

Laser patterning involves using a laser beam to selectively remove or modify specific areas of the deposited film. This process enables the generation of intricate patterns with submicron-level precision. Control and precision of the laser is critical for creating and modifying each layer for the specific end use requirements. The non-contact nature of laser patterning reduces the risk of contamination and damage to the underlying substrate, making it particularly suitable for delicate 2D materials. This technique provides the ability to develop and then validate a design and process in small volumes and then easily transfer to large area roll-to-roll production without changes to the laser processing equipment.

Large area coated and patterned material for sensor applications.

Advantages of Laser Patterning in 2D Flexible Microelectronics Manufacturing

  1. High Precision: Laser patterning enables the creation of intricate features with sub-micron precision, ensuring that active regions in the device are precisely defined. This level of precision is crucial for optimizing device performance and achieving consistent results across high-volume production.
  2. Scalability: Traditional patterning methods may struggle to meet the demands of high-volume production due to their sequential and time-consuming nature. Laser patterning, being a rapid and non-contact process, is inherently scalable. It allows for the efficient production of large batches of devices without compromising on quality or performance.
  3. Flexibility in Design: Laser patterning provides designers with greater flexibility in designing device architectures. This flexibility is particularly valuable as flexible microelectronic technology evolves, and new applications emerge. Engineers can easily adapt and optimize device architectures to meet the specific requirements of different industries and use cases.
  4. Reduced Waste: The precision of laser patterning minimizes material waste by selectively removing only the necessary portions of the coating. This not only contributes to cost savings but also aligns with sustainable manufacturing practices. Material compatibility allows for equipment versatility, changing materials of the stack and adapting laser settings to achieve desired results. This can be done simply and quickly and can include changes to the substrate. Reusability and versatility of equipment is not possible in many current 2D manufacturing processes without large effort to retrofit or change equipment for each process step change.
  5. Speed and Efficiency: Laser patterning is a fast and efficient process, allowing for rapid prototyping and quick iterations in the design and manufacturing phases. Equipment versatility with high-speed lasers allows for faster processing including the ability to add more lasers to increase production ramping without the addition of large investments. This speed is essential for staying competitive in the fast-paced electronics industry.

These benefits have been proven by taking a prototype chip fabrication process which utilized shadow masks to convert the smooth blanket sputter coating into a patterned circuit and transitioning it to laser processing. The shadow mask technique provided a few chips per day, while the laser process provided a dozen chips per minute, including two sputter deposition steps and two laser processing steps. Another benefit of laser processing over shadow masks is the consistent edge quality of the features provided by the laser. For this example, further capacity scaleup is possible through the use of production roll-to-roll equipment rather than the lab scale techniques used here.

Without the need to make an upfront geometric commitment, even after full scale up, design changes may be made to optimize and fine tune production. Optimization may include reduction of materials through tuning feature geometry, or improving device performance by tuning other process variables. Unlike CVD and transfer printing, sputtering together with laser process does not require complex process systems relative to the substrate size and desired manufacturing output. This approach affords tremendous flexibility and breadth in the range of devices that can be produced with a single equipment set.

Laser fabrication for tuning surface roughness to control the flow of fluid (actual sample)

Multiple variables need to considered for laser processing; a perfect process could be defined as the minimum energy used in the minimum time to achieve 100% usable results. Achieving the perfect process variables means running a large number of tests, incrementally changing variables to generate a grid of different process conditions and combinations for a range of process conditions can be achieved in a single run with a single laser program. The ratio of energy deposited into the material during patterning by ablation can determine the relationship between laser parameters and minimizes the need for large tests with multiple device evaluations.

The laser patterning process involves fine-tuning many variables such as power, scan speed, repetition, pass parameter and beam variables. This optimization ensures the desired functionality is achieved while maintaining efficient manufacturing. (Actual sample)

The next phase would be to increase scan speeds and efficiency for processing these variables. Tuning variables could include heating of the substrate which can cause shrinkage and impact how ejecta interacts with the beam of laser introducing inconsistency of the ablation. Reflectivity of the patterned materials and morphology of the substrate surface can also impact the results.

Rapid process identification and impact of varying laser conditions on substrate roughness.

Deposition of the conductive material onto the substrate was done with Intellivation’s R2R thin film vacuum deposition Lab coater that is available for product and process development. The conductive coating is then laser patterned to match the desired level of hydrophobicity through morphology between distinct pattern structures, allowing control of the application of selective layers responsible for molecule detection. Subsequently, specific areas are conditioned to allow for a narrow continuous 2D semiconducting material; this is accomplished by depositing the semiconductor material on the entire patterned substrate and then patterning of isolating regions to crystallize them for interfacing with subsequent layers. Once the substrate, layer stacks and laser variables are optimized, the next phase is to scale these devices to large area R2R processing.

R2R vaccum web coating system for deposition for sputtering layers.

Process overview of coating and laser processing of subsequent layers for sensor for molecule detection.

Laser crystallization offers rapid and energy efficient material processing compared to thermal batch processing. Glass, which is often used as a substrate in 2D electronic devices, can be sensitive to thermal stress and may break or crack if not handled carefully. Polymer based substrates present even more challenges to batch crystallization due to their poor response to heating and temperature limitations. With laser crystallization, we can selectively target specific areas, minimizing the risk of heat-damage to a substrate. Laser crystallization provides higher efficiency because of this targeted approach which leads to more efficient use of energy, reducing overall production costs as we do away with large inefficient furnaces and full material heating. Crystallization of thin film semiconductors using large areas lasers is another innovation that saves a manufacturing step and reduces material handling.

Laser crystallization promises to offer better control over the crystal structure, grain size, and orientation of the semiconductor layer, which can result in improved properties and device performance. This level of control is typically more challenging to achieve with thermal crystallization methods.

By adopting roll-to-roll manufacturing for flexible microelectronic devices, we can streamline the production process and significantly reduce labor costs and material handling. Intellivation’s standard one-button mode of operation simplifies the manufacturing process, lowers the risk of human error, and minimizes the need for manual labor. Roll-to-roll manufacturing introduces even more scalability, allowing for rapid expansion of production capacity as demand increases. For example, a laser head could be added to an existing patterning zone effectively doubling production speed on the same equipment. This scalability ensures that our laser patterning process can meet the growing needs of the 2D electronics industry while maintaining consistent quality and performance.

Case Studies in Flexible 2D Microelectronic Device Manufacturing

Several research and industry initiatives have successfully employed laser patterning of sputtered coatings for the high-volume production of 2D electronic devices

  1. TMD-based Photodetectors: Transition metal dichalcogenides, such as molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), are promising materials for photodetector applications. Laser patterning has been instrumental in creating precise patterns on sputtered MoS2 films, allowing for the fabrication of photodetectors with enhanced light-absorbing capabilities. The resulting devices exhibit high photoresponsivity and can find applications in imaging and optical communication systems.
  2. Flexible Wearable Sensors: The flexibility of 2D materials makes them ideal for wearable sensor applications. Laser patterning has been employed to create flexible and stretchable sensors by selectively patterning sputtered coatings on flexible substrates. This approach has led to the development of wearable sensors that conform to the skin, enabling comfortable and unobtrusive monitoring of physiological parameters.

Challenges and Future Directions

While laser patterning of sputtered coatings presents numerous advantages, some challenges persist, and ongoing research aims to address them.

  1. Scalability Optimization: Although laser patterning is inherently scalable, optimizing the process for large-scale manufacturing remains a focus of ongoing research. Enhancing the throughput and efficiency of laser patterning systems will be crucial for meeting the growing demand for flexible 2D microelectronics.
  2. Material Compatibility: Different 2D materials may require specific laser parameters to achieve optimal results during patterning. Researchers are working to establish guidelines for laser patterning of various 2D materials, taking into account factors such as material composition, thickness, and sensitivity to laser energy.
  3. Cost Considerations: While laser patterning offers high precision and efficiency, considerations related to equipment costs and maintenance are essential. Researchers and industry partners are working to develop cost-effective laser patterning solutions that balance performance with economic feasibility.

Conclusion

The marriage of laser patterning and sputtered coatings has unlocked new possibilities in the high-volume production of flexible 2D microelectronics. This innovative approach addresses the demand for devices with enhanced performance, precision, and scalability. A roll-to-roll approach offers several significant advantages in terms of efficiency, cost and adaptability. As research in this field continues to advance, the integration of laser patterning into manufacturing processes is poised to play a pivotal role in bringing 2D device technology to the forefront of diverse industries. The collaborative efforts of researchers, engineers, and industry partners will undoubtedly drive further breakthroughs, leading to the widespread adoption of flexible 2D microelectronics in applications ranging from healthcare to environmental monitoring and beyond.

Converting Quarterly April 2024 Cover

The above article was originally published in Converting Quarterly 2024 Quarter 1 Issue


Intellivation Completes Expansion of Manufacturing facility to provide production solutions for R2R Vacuum Web Coating Systems

Intellivation Completes Expansion of Manufacturing facility to provide production solutions for R2R Vacuum Web Coating Systems

Loveland CO, December 29, 2023: Intellivation announces the completion of the final manufacturing expansion phase of its headquarters to over 50,000 ft2 in December 2023.  Mike Simmons, President & CEO of Intellivation emphasizes the significance of the expansion, stating, “This expansion will significantly increase our capacity while improving efficiency by streamlining work flow in the manufacture of our state-of-the-art roll-to-roll vacuum coating equipment.  Along with our earlier expansion in late 2022, we are now equipped to provide the complete solution for our R2R and vacuum solutions in-house, positioning Intellivation as a uniquely vertically integrated manufacturer.  In 2023, we have already manufactured a number of vacuum chambers used in our production systems.  We are currently finalizing the manufacturing of the chamber for our new R2R600 Lab machine which will be installed in a newly dedicated Lab and will house our metrology equipment.  This new space will have room for two dedicated R2R Lab systems which will help us better support our customers who are developing new products and investigating new technology areas.”

Intellivation moved to a new state of the art facility in 2020 designed specifically for manufacturing vacuum coating equipment used in a wide range of industries and a variety of applications. This latest expansion adds 28,000 square feet to the existing facility.

Intellivation is a leading manufacturer of vacuum web coating equipment featuring unique innovative state-of-the-art design and powerful automation.  We offer R2R Series vacuum coaters and metallizers in widths of 50mm to 2m which can include rotary and planar magnetrons, evaporation technology, substrate pretreatment, and in-situ monitoring.  Our on-site Application Lab featuring the R2R600 roll-to-roll vacuum coater provides the ability to support customers’ thin film coating development on flexible substrates including metal foils, polymers, textiles, nonwovens, flexible glass and flexible ceramics. We provide solutions for technically challenging applications including but not limited to medical devices, energy storage, superconductors, optics, flexible electronics, solar and other functional coatings.

Intellivation’s Latest Expansion is well underway.

Intellivation’s Latest Expansion is well underway.

Intellivation’s latest facility expansion is well underway, with move-in scheduled for December 2023. We are excited to see our manufacturing footprint grow to >50,000 ft2. The new space will provide additional capacity for our machine shop and welding operations, expansion of our R2R Vacuum Coating Lab with multiple machines, and significant space for increased manufacturing and operational flow through our facility.

West Expansion Far Corner-Full Build Out
East Exp Concrete-Full Build Out
East Expansion Metal Frame-Full Build Out
West Expansion Metal Frame-Full Build Out
Intellivation Completes Manufacturing Expansion in Loveland CO

Intellivation Completes Manufacturing Expansion in Loveland CO

Intellivation is pleased to announce a new manufacturing expansion which was completed in late 2022. “This expansion will significantly increase our capacity for manufacturing and support our machine shop work flow most specifically. We will be adding some exciting new equipment to our machine shop which will allow us to do complete vacuum chamber machining in-house.” says Mike Simmons, Intellivation President & CEO. “Installing capacity, particularly in our machine shop helps us control our build time for our vacuum chambers and roll to roll coating equipment. Like everyone, dealing with logistics and supply chain changes has made us rethink our project planning and manufacturing flow. This expansion supports the changes the team has implemented to support our customers and commitments and helps insulate us from supply chain fluctuations.” Intellivation moved to a new state of the art facility in 2020 designed specifically for manufacturing vacuum coating equipment used in a wide range of industries and a variety of applications. This expansion adds 5,000 square feet to the existing facility.

“This expansion along with the recent and continued growth of our team will only reinforce our ability to deliver to the high standards our customers and the industry expect from Intellivation. Our innovative team, system designs, and controls are constantly improving to provide the best possible solution for depositing precision quality coatings using a range of deposition technologies”, says Mike.

Intellivation is a leading manufacturer of vacuum web coating equipment featuring unique innovative state-of-the-art design and powerful automation. We offer R2R Series vacuum coaters and metallizers in widths of 50 mm to 2 m which can include rotary and planar magnetrons, evaporation technology, substrate pretreatment, and in-situ monitoring. Our on-site Application Lab featuring the R2R500 roll-to-roll vacuum coater provides the ability to support customers’ thin film coating development on flexible substrates including metal foils, polymers, textiles, nonwovens, flexible glass and flexible ceramics. We provide solutions for technically challenging applications including but not limited to medical devices, energy storage, superconductors, optics, flexible electronics, solar and other functional coatings.

Intellivation Breaks Ground on Expansion in Loveland CO

Intellivation Breaks Ground on Expansion in Loveland CO

Intellivation is pleased to announce a new manufacturing expansion which will be completed in early 2023. “This expansion will significantly increase our capacity for manufacturing and support our machine shop work flow. We will be adding some exciting new equipment to our machine shop which will allow us to do complete vacuum chamber machining in-house.” says Mike Simmons, Intellivation president. “Installing capacity, particularly in our machine shop helps us control our build time for our vacuum chambers and roll to roll coating equipment. Like everyone, dealing with logistics and supply chain changes has made us rethink our project planning and manufacturing flow.  This expansion supports the changes the team has implemented to support our customers and commitments and helps insulate us from supply chain fluctuations.” Intellivation moved to a new state of the art facility in 2020 designed specifically for manufacturing vacuum coating equipment used in a wide range of industries and a variety of applications. This expansion will add 5,000 square feet to the existing facility.

“This expansion along with the recent and continued growth of our team will only reinforce our ability to deliver to the high standards our customers and the industry expects from Intellivation. Our innovative team, system designs, and controls are constantly improving to provide the best possible solution for depositing precision quality coatings using a range of deposition technologies”, states Mike.

Intellivation is a leading manufacturer of vacuum web coating equipment featuring unique innovative state-of-the-art design and powerful automation.  We offer R2R Series vacuum coaters and metallizers in widths of 50 mm to 2 m which can include rotary and planar magnetrons, evaporation technology, substrate pretreatment, and in-situ monitoring.  Our on-site Application Lab featuring the R2R500 roll-to-roll vacuum coater provides the ability to support customers’ thin film coating development on flexible substrates including metal foils, polymers, textiles, nonwovens, flexible glass and flexible ceramics. We provide solutions for technically challenging applications including but not limited to medical devices, energy storage, superconductors, optics, flexible electronics, solar and other functional coatings.

For more information: info@intellivation.com or www.intellivation.com

INTELLIVATION’s New R2R500 Lab Machine is Up and Running

INTELLIVATION’s New R2R500 Lab Machine is Up and Running

We commissioned our latest R2R machine in our Lab and kicked it off by running a very complex and difficult multilayer coating. Our process knowledge and team continue to grow and provide great support for our customers and we look forward to the next challenges our customers bring.

Intellivation Celebrates 1st Anniversary in New State of the Art Facility in Loveland CO

Intellivation Celebrates 1st Anniversary in New State of the Art Facility in Loveland CO

Manufacturing R2R Vacuum Web Coating Systems with Dedicated Lab Provides Unique Process Development Capabilities

Loveland CO, May 28, 2021: Intellivation LLC, a leading manufacturer of innovative & versatile thin film coating equipment and components for vacuum deposition on roll-to-roll substrates, celebrates their one-year anniversary in their new state-of-the-art facility in Loveland CO.  The 21,000 ft2 site allows for multiple projects to be managed simultaneously and has a new dedicated Lab for product development including unique vacuum deposition and web handling capabilities with thin film analysis.

“We are so proud of our team for facilitating the relocation during the pandemic.  They worked diligently and efficiently, we did not have any delays in customer orders or commitments and we were up and running in 7 days.  This was due to the dedication and expertise of our team.”  says Mike Simmons, CEO of Intellivation. “The ability to design and build a facility to our specific needs has created an environment for product and process development for thin film vacuum coatings. Our Lab tool is uniquely configurable, and we have a very wide range of deposition sources and materials in-house.  All of the work we do in the Lab is directly transferable to production tools which we can concurrently manufacture to deliver the same performance demonstrated in the Lab.”

Intellivation’s R2R Series vacuum web coating systems have a compact and ergonomic design for coating flexible polymer, ceramic, and glass substrates and metal foils with a wide range of thin film materials. The Application Lab is equipped with a R2R330 for process development.   “Although onsite visits were significantly limited during the past year, the current feedback that access to a robust R2R vacuum web coating tool platform in the US, with our deposition technologies, in-house process expertise and onsite characterization equipment, is truly unique and beneficial.  It enables rapid process and product development and accelerates new product launches by reducing time to market” says Mike.  “We look forward to hosting more customers and taking on new challenges here.”

For more information: info@intelli-vation.com or www.intellivation.com

Intellivation attends 2020 Association of Metallizers, Coaters, and Laminators R2R Conference in Orlando, FL

Come say hello to Intellivation at the 2020 Association of International Metallizers, Coaters, and Laminators (AIMCAL) R2R Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Intellivation president Mike Simmons serves as the AIMCAL Vacuum Web Coating committee co-chair to help seek out the best technical papers in emerging roll to roll vacuum web coating technology areas such as hybrid flexible electronics manufacturing technology, thin film batteries, roll to roll optical coatings, large area roll to roll sputter deposition, and flexible medical devices, in order to put on a strong technical program in the vacuum web coating technology track.

Please visit the conference to learn more about these exciting technology areas, and while you are here visit the Intellivation exhibit to learn more about our high utilization planar magnetrons for PVD sputtering, reel to reel vacuum deposition equipment for Production, Pilot, and R&D, large area PVD coating systems, and our on-site thin film coating development laboratory.