Predictions for Growth in Printed Electronics Applications in 2011

Historical event – replacing silicon chips

Certain small orders for printed and partly printed electronics in 2010 were of deep significance. For example, the Kovio order for disposable electronic train tickets in Los Angeles saw formidable printed nano silicon electronics in the form of over 1,000 transistors printed by inkjet and screen printing onto stainless steel foil. Being compatible with the world’s most popular RFID specification ISO 14443, which was designed for silicon chips, this analog-digital circuit was a tour de force announcing to the world that a huge variety of the simpler integrated circuits can now be replaced by lower cost, more flexible and more robust printing ,albeit on stainless steel foil because of the high temperature anneal currently required.


Equally significant was Dai Nippon Printing in Japan taking its first orders for multifunctional posters on the Tokyo Metro incorporating printed animated OLED and ac electroluminescent technology powered by printed organic photovoltaics. In addition, trials by Toppan Forms in Japan of interactive posters have been successful. These involved sound, activated by touching, printed ac electroluminescent and electrophoretic displays and printed organic photovoltaics for power.

At a stroke, the world’s existing posters, packaging and point of display material are rendered boring, relatively ineffective and an embarrassment. It is equivalent to the arrival of television: if you just make radios watch out.


2010 also saw the U.S. Air Force committing very serious money to vehicles made possible by flexible photovoltaics, notably unmanned upper atmosphere surveillance aircraft and dirgibles covered with the stuff. One order exceeded $500 million. The benefits include light weight and flexibility. You do not put glass sheets on a balloon.


Much smaller sums were committed to buying printed electronic products for healthcare, with ongoing business in electronic tamper evidence and entirely printed electric skin patches. However, in the background, a great deal of work was going on to develop electronic healthcare disposables for testing and drug administration.

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