Safi-Tech: Liquid-metal particles make heat-free soldering possible

Photo courtesy of Safi-Tech.

An Ames-based company is looking to change the way electronics manufacturers approach soldering.

Safi-Tech has developed supercooled liquid metal particles that allow manufacturers to solder on flexible substrates without the use of heat. The liquid particles are about one-fiftieth the size of a human hair and are filled with liquid metal. When popped, the particles release the encapsulated liquid metal which quickly solidifies, creating a solder joint. This unique process allows soldering to take place at room temperature.

“All these little components that are on circuit boards and in sensors are extremely heat sensitive,” said Ian Tevis, Chief Technical Officer of Safi-Tech. “This allows electronics manufacturers to build all these amazing devices on plastic or paper without damaging those substrates.”

In addition to soldering, the supercooled liquid metal particles will impact the 3D printing of metallic components with heat-sensitive materials like plastics, allowing printing to take place at room temperature with no heat requirements, making it an ideal material for 3D printing.

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SAFI-Tech was one of three companies recognized during the IDTechEx Printed Electronics USA conference and exhibition in Santa Clara, for achievements in developing and commercializing printed electronics technologies. SAFI-Tech won in the category for Best Technical Development Materials.

Safi-Tech was one of ten companies to participate in the ISU Startup Factory inaugural cohort.

“We are very grateful to the Startup Factory for admitting us and for everything they’ve done for us,” Tevis said. It’s a really great group of mentors and you meet for four hours every week and get all your assumptions about your business model torn apart and find out who you really need to be talking to.”

Safi-Tech hopes to have a product on the market within the next year.

“We’ve been all over the country and Japan talking with companies and there’s tremendous interest in what we’re offering,” Tevis said. “By the end of the year, we want to have a tested product on its way to market.