Langmuir, Vol.26, No.19, 15686-15693, 2010
Methodology for Inkjet Printing of Partially Wetting Films
Inkjet printing of precisely defined structures is critical for the realization of a range of printed electronics applications. We develop and demonstrate a methodology to optimize the inkjet printing of two-dimensional, partially wetting films. When printed inks have a positive retreating contact angle, we show that any fixed spacing is ineffective for printing two-dimensional features. With fixed spacing, the bead contact angle begins large, leading to a bulging overflow of its intended footprint. Each additional line reduces the bead contact angle, eventually leading to separation of the bead. We propose a printing scheme that adjusts the line-to-line spacing to maintain a bead's contact angle between its advancing and retreating values as it is printed. Implementing this approach requires an understanding of the two-dimensional bead surface and compensation for evaporation during the print. We derive an analytic equation for the bead's surface with pinned contact lines and use an empirical fit for mass loss due to evaporation. Finally, we demonstrate that enhanced contact angle hysteresis, achieved by preprinting a feature's border, leads to better corner definition.