Investing in Actnano

Jan 18, 2023

Toppan Global Venture Partners - a Toppan company - is excited to announce our investment in Actnano.

Actnano, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a leading developer of hydrophobic, nanogel-based materials. Their solutions present revolutionary protection for electronics across a swathe of applications, ranging from IoT to consumer vehicles.

PCBs(Printed Circuit Boards) are electronic media used to connect various components within a single device. These assemblies typically employ a laminated structure composed of conductive and insulating materials, which may then be etched to form desired connectivity and compatibility with electrical components. These boards are typically constructed from copper and silicon, and range dramatically in form and application. As the basic building block of hardware development, demand for PCBs will continue to grow as IoT, Automation, and Edge Computing solutions become increasingly predominant.

In the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic, global supply chains remain under margin pressure and capacity issues. While interest in expansion of electronic device manufacturing has increased domestically since 2020, the capital intensive nature of PCB manufacturing, as well as the unclear demand forecast, has caused PCB builders to lag behind on supply expansion. As existing builders are assumed to be operating at or near Operational Efficiency, it is unlikely that additional capacity can be satisfied with current methodology. Thus, process improvements utilizing current equipment in parallel with adaptive technologies should allowPCB manufacturers to expand capacity without excessive up-front costs.

Generally, electronic devices deployed in non-sterile environments must contend with possible degradation of materials. Contact with liquids presents one of the most common avenues of device failure; the presence of fluids can cause oxidation on metallic surfaces and may allow short circuits to form between junctions. In high-sensitivity applications, dust and other fine particulates may cause similar malfunctions. As such, boards must be protected from possible damage, either by mechanical seal (i.e. IP69K rated enclosures) or surface protectants. Currently treatments require manual pre-processing in the form of critical surface masking, which increases costs and lengthens cycle times.

Actnano aims to replacing all traditional conformal coatings by offering improved protection, at the same time reducing cycle times and cost by deploying their proprietary NanoGuard solution. NanoGuard is capable of similar circuit protection as standard products, while offering material properties that eliminate the need for masking, curing, and de-masking. By utilizing properties of non-newtonian fluids, Actnano can provide comparable protection to standard surface treatments using micron-level material thickness (as compared against ‘standard’ treatments which are millimeters thick). As the material has been designed to cure without ovens, secondary processing is not required. NanoGuard does not require any masking, and thus may be used to eliminate labor and equipment costs associated. The gel is designed to deform such that ports or pins will be appropriately exposed upon initial mechanical connection. The sum result of these benefits are time and salary savings, which should deliver additional value and capacity to PCB manufacturers. NanoGuard is also human and environmental safe and does not contain fluorine.

The Actnano leadership is composed of industry and academic veterans with expertise in electronics design, manufacturing, and materials science. The team has successfully deployed materials to OEM and Tier-1 suppliers, and is well positioned to continue use-case expansion to new devices. The rapid, successful commercialization of novel materials suggests continuing managerial execution.TGVP is confident that Actnano represents a significant realization of transformative technologies in motion.

The new partnership with Actnano will position Toppan to expand its expertise as a leader in emergent electronics markets. Future collaborations on current and pipeline Actnano products are poised to revolutionize the field of surface protectants.