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What You Can Expect from Printed Electronics in 2010

December 22, 2009
As we enter the New Year IDTechEx look back and summarises some of the main global trends in 2009 and gives some predictions, and indeed areas of opportunity, for the New Year.

Trends in 2009
IDTechEx saw a huge rise in activity on metal oxide transistors (which can be transparent, high current and high frequency). One key potential application for these is OLED display backplanes, given the higher current performance required compared to conventional aSi backplanes used for LCDs. Many more organisations are developing printed nanosilicon as well, their focus varying from RFID transistor circuits to photovoltaics.
 
Only limited demonstrators have been realized so far, however. We expect commercial products to appear perhaps from 2012 onwards. In contrast, there was some shakeout in those developing organic semiconductor based transistors. However next year the first commercial product will appear from Plastic Logic using these to drive E-ink e-reader displays. PolyIC promises RFID demonstrators based on organic transistors.
 
2009 saw growth in innovation, quantified from the huge number of companies that moved into carbon nanotubes and graphene research, to those that demonstrated memristors, embedded electrochromic, electroluminescent and other forms of displays, and much more. Just read Printed Electronics World for evidence of the rapid growth in innovation (www.PrintedElectronicsWorld.com).
 
From the peak interest in photovoltaics in mid 2008, 2009 was a harder year for all involved in photovoltaics as demand was half of capacity, and the biggest customer (the Spanish government) drastically cut back its photovoltaic budget.
 
Those that have not yet started to open manufacturing facilities may struggle to raise the money to do so over the next year. We still await CIGs/DSSC/OPV to be printed on a commercial scale, which developers say will happen in 2010 but given the overcapacity it could be another year or so. There was a huge surge in activity in East Asia, from acquisition of display companies (OLED materials from Kodak, E-ink, Polymervision etc) to new transistor based work.
 
New in 2009 was huge interest from end users, particularly consumer goods companies and consumer electronics companies that have set up internal teams focused on studying and applying printed electronics in their businesses.
 
Now the opportunity is for the industry to conceive and develop new products using printed electronics for these companies. Those that have been successfully commercial have moved from the left of the value chain to the right. Despite the economic meltdown, fund raising was still rife on both sides of the Atlantic, with strong new investor interest. The number of new organizations entering the topic, despite the recession, has grown considerably, indicated by a 25% growth in attendance at the recent IDTechEx Printed Electronics USA event in San Jose, CA — the World's largest event on the topic.

What IDTechEx expect in 2010
In 2010, IDTechEx expect an increasing range of demonstrator units to be made, showing a wide gambit of technologies. The best will incorporate two or more printed electronics technologies. These are key to showing to adopters what is possible and presenting ideas for adoption. More creative design will be involved, and the interest from end users that started in earnest in 2009 will continue to grow.
 
The industry needs to be careful of over promising and announcing product launches that are later delayed. IDTechEx see a huge opportunity to consolidate some of the key enabling technologies in one group as many new companies keep entering the field and the industry fragments. Most of the market will involve co-deposition of several components and some projects are delayed when lawyers argue about splitting IP and sharing profit. Another form of consolidation will be the product integrators licensing a wider range of IP to broaden their repertoire. Such key companies will be presenting at the annual IDTechEx investor summits, the next one to be held in Dresden, Germany on April 12. Investor interest will continue to grow reflecting the huge opportunity.
 
The start of 2010 will see a surge in e-readers, as many more become available, in larger, thinner and even flexible formats. More organizations will offer commercial OLED lighting panels, though mostly rigid and not printed. Those in transistor development should address the need to create key enabling building blocks so that many products for different industries can be created.
 
All of these issues are covered at the IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe 2010 event, to be held in Dresden, Germany on April 13-14 (www.IDTechEx.com/peEurope ). This is, by far, Europe's largest event on the topic and the only to give you an impartial view as to the big picture, covering all relevant chemistries, production processes, devices and territories. Above all, IDTechEx events provide more end users than any other - discussing their needs and experiences, providing that vital "reality check" to those walking the exhibition to appraise the technology for their business.
 
Register for the IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe now to save a huge 40% on attendee rates.
 
See www.IDTechEx.com/peEurope for details.
 

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