The big picture
The independent analysts will convert all this into figures and forecasts. Speaker Dr Jennifer Colegrove of iSuppli Corporation says, “We believe that the applications of flexible displays will be very broad ranging and we shall share our research on the flexible display technology challenge and market forecast.” Dr Peter Harrop of analysts IDTechEx, the conference organizers, will cover “The Global Market for Printed Electronics”. IDTechEx sees exponential progress towards a $300 billion market for printed electronics in 2027 with printed logic and memory together growing to be about $8 billion in 2017. This will mimic the early growth of sales of the silicon chip market.
The main market driver in 2017 will be the need for flexible and conformal, lightweight electronics in applications from billboards to smart packaging, smart skin patches and interior lighting for cars. Next will come performance of these circuits, particularly their low cost compared with ones based on silicon chips. (The printed versions will incur one hundredth of the manufacturing cost and they will even have many different components co-deposited not separately connected, saving even more and improving reliability). Then come other aspects such as being environmental, non-poisonous and avoiding rare metals. The relative weighting is shown below.
Technologies now and in the future
As for which technologies are here and now and which are distant dreams, Soligie will share its “Commercialisation through Collaborative Innovation” and Poly IC will describe its first success in selling anti-counterfeiting and RFID labels based on reel to reel printed transistors. Menippos will describe its large sales of organic electronic gaming cards and GSI will cover the “Functional Printing Applications and Requirements to Compete.” A scoop for IDTechEx is Kovio making its first announcement on its revolutionary new printed transistor process.
New semiconducting inks come thick and fast. Speaker Dr Giles Lloyd of Merck Chemicals says, “Merck is helping drive progress in printed electronics by developing organic semiconductors and formulations for high volume production. We will share our progress towards this aim.” It has certainly set the pace with a stable, printable organic semiconductor in its laboratory that has the highest mobility in the world and can lead to higher frequency transistors that are therefore more saleable. It is also developing inorganic semiconductors. Others are assisting in the commercialization of this wide range of technologies. Speaker Mark Hartney of US Display Corporation declares, “USDC, through its Flexible, Printed, Organic Electronics Initiative, is a catalyst for the rapid evolution of printed displays and we shall share our latest progress.”