Method for fabricating electrical conductive patterns and metal coating of 2D and 3D objects

Magdassi Shlomo, HUJI, Faculty of Science, The Institute of Chemistry

Novel ink and process for metal-coated and conductive 3D objects


3D Printing, Nanoparticles, Nanoprocesses, Nano Materials and Nano Structures, Coatings, Printed Electronics

Development Stage

Proof of concept and laboratory demonstration

Patent Status

PCT filed


  • Ink composed of sub-micrometer particles of a metal precursor is printed on a donor substrate, and upon its decomposition, the metal is transferred to an acceptor substrate.
  • Reactive transfer printing (RTP) of copper involves printing a pattern (“donor pattern”) on a substrate (“donor substrate”) using an ink composed of a copper precursor.
  • The printing can be performed by various methods, such as screen, inkjet or fountain-pen printing, depending on the required resolution.
  • A second substrate (“acceptor substrate”) of materials such as glass or plastic is placed in parallel to the donor pattern.
  • Both substrates are then heated in a nitrogen atmosphere.
  • The decomposition of the donor pattern results in the transfer of the pattern from the donor substrate to the acceptor substrate, producing a copper pattern that is the mirror image of the donor pattern.

Our Innovation

New copper ink and a new method, reactive transfer printing (RTP), for patterning a metal on 2D and 3D substrates




Schematic representation of Reactive Transfer Printing A) The donor substrate with printed pattern. B) An acceptor substrate is placed above the donor substrate, with a gap between them maintained by a spacer. C) The two substrates after decomposition, showing the pattern obtained on the acceptor substrate. D) The pattern obtained on the acceptor substrate flipped right-side up




Copper electrode printed on a plastic substrate (PEN). Pictures were taken during a flexibility test. The sample can undergo more than one thousand bending cycles with as little as 50% increase in resistance


Key Features

  • Main advantages of the new ink and process:
  • Overcomes the oxidation of copper, a major problem in utilizing inks based on copper nanoparticles;
  • Enables the printing of conductive patterns on 3D objects, including printing over sharp angles;
  • Since the pattern is formed by the direct crystallization of copper atoms, a very dense layer of copper with high conductivities (up to 50% that of bulk copper) is obtained with no need for post-printing steps such as sintering;
  • The ink preparation is very simple, based on common technologies utilized in the paint industry.


New Development Milestones

  • Tailoring the process to lower temperatures to fit low cost plastics
  • Evaluate the effect of process parameters on conductivities obtained and adhesion to various substrates


The Opportunity

  • The total market for printed, flexible and organic electronics is projected to grow from $16.04 billion in 2013 to $76.79 billion in 2023. The majority of that is OLEDs (organic but not printed) and conductive ink used for a wide range of applications.
  • This new process for the deposition of conducting patterns for new printed electronic devices has the advantage of being non-contact, eco-friendly, low cost (no need for expensive facilities), and scalable.

Researcher Information 




Contact for more information:

Matt Zarek
Contact ME: