Elephantech seeks strategic partners for sustainable PCB manufacturing in response to surging demand

Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0


Elephantech Inc., the first company in the world to successfully manufacture Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) using metal inkjet printing, is seeking strategic partners to scale up manufacturing in light of rising demand.

Masaaki Sugimoto, Co-founder and Board Director of Elephantech, joined the InnoVex Startup Exhibition in Taipei at the invitation of Epoch Foundation during Computex 2024, told DIGITIMES Asia that the company is seeing significant growth in demand, thanks to the decarbonization trend that attracts new customers.

"We are looking for strategic partners who can help us build a stable supply chain together," said Sugimoto. He explained that since the metal inkjet PCB is a very new process, Elephantech needs to collaborate tightly with other more experienced supply chain partners because it is difficult for itself to expand its capacity.

Elephantech has signed an MOU with Liteon Technologies to introduce its additive manufacturing technology and collaborate in producing flexible PCBs. Its investors include Epson, Mitsui Chemical, Sumitomo, etc. Those strategic investors have been very helpful in building up Elephantech's prototypes, proof-of-concept, and eventually manufacturing facilities and supply chain management system.

The traditional way of manufacturing PCBs is prone to produce massive toxic pollution and is wasteful of water and materials due to the etching process. Elephantech's mission – "Make the world sustainable with new manufacturing technologies" – finally has started to resonate with customers' ESG goals.

Decarbonization, being environmentally friendly, and addressing climate change are crucial topics nowadays, and that has increased customer interest in Elephantech's technology. Sugimoto emphasized, "It's not just about cost; it's about making substantial changes. Setting clear goals, like aiming for a temperature increase target of 1.5 degrees instead of 2.0 degrees, as agreed upon at events like COP 26 in Glasgow, shows how even a 0.5-degree difference can have a significant impact."

This urgent need for change means clients are under pressure to act quickly. Larger companies, due to their size and influence, carry a significant responsibility in this context. "We are currently at a point where challenges intersect with opportunities thanks to the heightened environmental awareness worldwide," said Sugimoto.

Environmental awareness has been around for a long time, and people are aware of the harmful effects of toxic substances. "However, the crucial aspect now is the timing," said Sugimoto.

Understanding why action needs to be taken promptly is fundamental. Engaging in science-based discussions is invaluable as it leads to impactful outcomes.

These outcomes are influencing different sectors, including the electronics industry and its suppliers. It's not just about technological advancements but also understanding and meeting end users' needs and preferences.

Sugitomo said there has been a noticeable shift in customer demands and attitudes toward decarbonization technologies. Decarbonizing isn't a concern of board members or company owners only.

Students are also recognizing its value for businesses. This shift has turned decarbonization into a marketing strategy, as consumers prefer eco-friendly products and are conscious of environmental impact.

This change in consumer preferences has prompted marketing teams to collaborate with design teams to create products using sustainable technologies. Procurement teams are now faced with decisions that align with these values, emphasizing the importance of embracing this transformative change.

Elephantech's P-Flex PCB was certified to UL94 V-0, a US safety standard, in 2021. Its R&D center was established in Shin-Kiba, Koto District of Tokyo.

Sugimoto is confident that Elephantech's eco-friendly PCBs can be produced in countries with the most rigorous environmental protection regulations. The on-shoring demand for the electronic supply chain is creating windows of opportunity for its market expansion to the US and even Europe, said Sugimoto, who emphasized that the company is ready to go where the customer demand is. The company has successfully raised Series E financing (JPY3 billion) to accelerate global expansion in March 2024.

Fact Box




January, 2014


4-3-8 Hatchobori, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0032, Japan


Shinya Shimizu (CEO)

Masaaki Sugimoto (Co-founder and Board Director)

Number of Employees


Source: Elephantech, compiled by DIGITIMES Asia, June 2024