Substrate Parameters

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We have provided a rating system according to each of these principles that rates each substrate between 0 and 5. These ratings can help you to choose which substrate suits your particular application best - no one substrate can be considered the 'best' but perhaps could be best for a particular application.

Please see Substrates for a reference table on ratings for each parameter on tested substrates.

Substrate Parameters

Name Symbol Description
Conductivity
Conductivity.jpg
This is a measure of how quickly a print will become conductive, a higher value indicates that traces will become conductive with much fewer layers and less ink deposition - this means a faster print but also that it is much easier to make circuits that rely on very low resistances. Materials that score lower typically have a porous surface which requires 'filling out' before the resistance begins dropping dramatically.
Resolution
Resolution.jpg
This is a measure of how fine detail can be printed - this can be limited by the roughness of the surface or again by the porosity of the material. For instance when printing on Linen Paper, the ink wicks into the paper ever so slightly meaning slightly reduced resolution as compared to day Polyimide.
Solderability
Solderability.jpg
This is a measure of how easy it is to solder to circuits on the substrate without damaging the traces. This is essentially a combination of how well the traces adhere to the material and how resistant the material is to high temperature. Silver conductive epoxy and z-axis conductive tape are alternatives to soldering that do not impose these requirements but soldering is much more reliable, low resistance, less expensive & allows for attaching much finer pitch components.
Durability
Durability.jpg
This is a measure of how well the substrate will withstand wear & tear as well as being wet (during cleaning the print after being pulled from the printer). Additionally, it takes into account how durable the connections on the material are. For example FR4 is very durable as scratching the traces actually *reduces resistance* & the material itself is not easily damaged at all.
Flexibility
Flexibility.jpg
This is simply a measure of how flexible the material is - by association, a higher flexibility rating is often coupled with a low weight. Both of these parameters can be very useful for particular applications.
Formability
Formability.jpg
This is a measure of how easy it is to modify the shape or size of the material before or after printing. As an example, after printing an LED circuit on Linen Paper you could cut it out into the shape of a light-bulb with craft scissors but to do the same on FR4 would require power tools, dust extraction & a strong sense of adventure.