Changes in the Target Markets for Printed Electronics
It is inevitable that the choice of best markets for printed electronics will change as developers establish the strengths and weaknesses of their products and learn which users are keen and which are not.
Five years ago, most of the developers of printed transistor circuits TFTCs were prioritizing RFID as the first commercialization of their products. Then it was realized that the specification creep in key RFID standards was taking the parameters further and further away from the inevitably primitive, initial capability of TFTCs. That may be a Pyrrhic victory for the silicon chip people because even they can not address such complexity without eye watering trading losses, but it still does the printed electronics industry no good at all. In addition, it was realized that one failed transistor kills an RFID tag whereas, in a backplane driver for displays, you only lose a pixel. Indeed, the rapid progress with several flexible display technologies made it clear that there would be a huge future in backplane drivers for them and the specifications are realistic and achievable with printing technology. And so it was displays became the favoured priority for commercialization of TFTCs although IDTechEx also saw enormous potential in toys and merchandising.
Anti-counterfeiting, fraud prevention, smart packaging
Thin Film Electronics AB of Sweden, printing thin film, non-volatile memory on low cost flexible substrates, sees its opportunities somewhat differently. Three years ago it talked of smart labels, smart packaging, smart cards, RFID and “low cost electronics such as toys”. Now it plans to evolve the technology from simple, slow, transistor driven, memory to RF interfaces on memory and then memory with co-deposited displays as well. Matching all that to the marketplace now has them talking firstly of anti-counterfeiting and fraud prevention (also an early priority for Poly IC of Germany with printed transistors) and toys and games. Then will come logistics/ID. Then comes smart packaging, displays with memory and finally RFID.