Nov. 14, 2019
Sumitomo Corporation and Elephantech Enter into Strategic Business Partnership
Sumitomo Corporation (Head Office: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; Representative Director, President and Chief Executive Officer: Masayuki Hyodo) has invested in Elephantech Inc. (Head office: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; Representative Director and Chief Executive Officer: Shinya Shimizu; hereinafter, “Elephantech”), a printed electronics*1 start-up firm, and entered into a strategic business partnership agreement with the firm (hereinafter, “the Agreement”).
Driven by the development of 5G and self-driving technologies, the market for connected devices*2 is projected to expand five-fold to some 75 billion units by 2025. For electronic terminals that are increasingly designed to be smaller and thinner, it is essential to incorporate thin and flexible printed circuit boards (PCBs), which offer circuits formed on films or other slim substrates. At the same time, PCB manufacturers are being challenged to reduce the amount of wastewater and other waste discharged in the production process.
Elephantech develops and manufactures flexible PCBs based on inkjet and copper plating technologies. Conventional PCBs have mostly been produced by bonding metal on the entire substrate and carving away the unnecessary parts to form circuits. In the pure additive processing method established by Elephantech, circuits can be created by directly applying metal only where needed on the substrate. By using this method, the amount of waste produced in the manufacturing process can be reduced to one thirteenth of the conventional process, while energy and water consumption can be slashed to at least one tenth, resulting in a significant decrease in environmental impact.*3
Under the Agreement, Sumitomo Corporation and Elephantech will work toward mass production of Elephantech’s flexible PCBs and discuss the launch of manufacturing equipment sales and maintenance businesses. By leveraging Sumitomo Corporation’s business platforms in diverse industries and regions, the Company will work to establish new businesses based on Elephantech’s technologies and expand them around the world.
Sumitomo Corporation is engaged in electronics manufacturing services (EMS) through its subsidiary Sumitronics Corporation, which specializes in contract manufacturing of mounted circuit boards and other electronic components. The Company has built an extensive network of production plants, as well as supply chains for electronic components, in Japan and around the world. The Company also harnesses its global networks in wide-ranging industrial fields including chemical products such as synthetic resin and electronic and functional materials, automobile production, pharmaceuticals and agriculture.
Upholding the corporate mission of “making the world sustainable with new manufacturing technologies,” Elephantech is expanding its inkjet-based flexible PCB manufacturing business, while also aiming to develop new products and markets with the aim of broadening the scope of its PCB applications, including forming wiring patterns on three-dimensional resin molded product and printing biomaterials.
*1. Printed electronics: The technology for manufacturing electronic circuits and devices by utilizing printing technology. By directing applying metal ink on substrates, the manufacturing process can be simplified and smaller and slimmer products can be made.
*2. Connected devices: Electronics equipment connected to the Internet
*3. Based on investigation by Elephantech
■ [Flexible PCB]