Printed Electronics Roadmap Leads in New Directions

In Germany, Platingtech and Future Shape are seeing huge interest in their smart textiles and apparel created with printed electronics while T-Ink in the USA is using it to radically reduce the weight and cost and increase space in the new electric cars, having already had great success with printed electronic toys and novelties. Indeed, T-Ink has some groundbreaking propositions for consumer goods as have Flexible Electronics Concepts and Novalia in the UK. Soligie in the USA has an impressively expanding repertoire of high-volume production capability to meet the required output and price points with these. On different tack, outdoor promotions leader JC Decaux in France is eager to see the large area deployment of moving color, sound and so on in billboards posters and the like.

Many users are developers now
It is little wonder that some large organizations are now both developers and users of printed electronics, including the U.S. Army, which sees scope for radically new components made possible with printed electronics. That even includes printing energy harvesting layers such as the VirginiaTech CEHMS piezoelectric layers that convert movement into electricity.

Basic building blocks
In the new world of multilayer electronic printing, it is best not to worry too much about where electronics begins and electrics ends: they are merging. However, making basic building blocks such as timers and energy harvesting with storage will be important. Consider the European FACESS project depositing a complete photovoltaic, power conversion and storage unit on a single plastic film. The Bayer of Germany breakthrough in combining “fidelity haptics” and light management with their polycarbonate film is also relevant here. DuPont Teijin of the USA is leader in the specialist polyester films used in other printed electronics.

New semiconductors
Many developers in East Asia now see organic transistors improving in cost and performance too slowly to be the best solution for many high frequency circuits in consumer goods. For display backplanes, zinc oxide based semiconductors such as InGaZnO are prioritised for commercialisation about two years after organic ones. A precursor of this was the 40 inch inkjet printed OLED television using RF sputtered zinc oxide backplane transistors that Samsung demonstrated last year.

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