Ricoh Co Ltd developed an inkjet printing technology for lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable batteries and exhibited it at the 18th International Nanotechnology Exhibition & Conference (nano tech 2019), which took place from Jan 30 to Feb 1, 2019, at Tokyo Big Sight.

The new technology enables to easily make a thin-film battery with a desired shape. Ricoh aims to apply the technology to wearable devices, devices for IoT (Internet or Things), etc.

This time, Ricoh developed a manufacturing technology that enables to print electrodes and separators (main components of batteries) by using existing industrial inkjet heads. According to the company, it can realize the world's first rechargeable battery whose positive-electrode, negative-electrode and separator layers are formed with an inkjet technology.

Conventional battery manufacturing methods require a process of applying paste including battery materials to the collector in the aim of forming positive and negative electrodes and sandwiching a separator between the electrodes. With the new technology, a separator can also be printed, eliminating the process and shortening manufacturing time.

Ricoh received "nano tech Grand Prize" because of the new technology at nano tech 2019.

A thin-film electrode and separator printed by using an inkjet technology. They can be formed into various shapes including a circle and triangle (right). Conventional battery manufacturing methods require a process of applying electrode materials to the base material and sandwiching a separator between the positive and negative electrodes (left). (source: Nikkei xTech)

To realize the inkjet printing technology, Ricoh developed its own ink (battery materials). Specifically, to discharge electrode materials as droplets from the thin nozzle of an inkjet head, the company reduced the size of the particle of active materials so that the viscosity of the ink decreases.

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