Printed Electronics - the Large Companies Move In
Across the world, the giant chemical corporations have been rapidly strengthening their position as producers of the new materials at the heart of printed electronics, an industry set to be over $300 billion.
BASF has licensed in know-how and invested in a new producer of organic photovoltaic devices while Sumitomo Chemical, Akzo Nobel and Henkel have made acquisitions of appropriate organic and inorganic material suppliers. Merck Chemical has funded major new university research in inorganic materials for printed electronics in Germany. Kodak, Honeywell and DuPont have announced new electronic display materials with Bayer also gearing up as a supplier. In Japan the filing of appropriate patents by Matsushita, Toshiba, Nissan Chemical, Dai Nippon Printing, Canon, Mitsubishi and other large companies has been on the increase.
The IDTechEx conference Printed Electronics Asia in Tokyo on October 8-9 will reveal many new advances and initiatives by the giant corporations. For example, Dr Yasushi Kumashiro of Hitachi Chemical says, “I will give a presentation about our new ink jet materials for these electronic devices. This will include inks for insulators and resistors.”
Speaker Gil Rosenfeld, Product Manager, Printable Electronics, Industrial Imaging Solutions of the Kodak Graphic Communications Group in Canada says, “I shall describe how features as small as 10 microns can now be printed in a controlled repeatable process with the Kodak Flexcel NX Flexo technology. The Kodak SQUARESpot™ high resolution thermal laser head, can be used for a variety of printable electronics applications, including thermal transfer of color filters, energy patterning of substrates, local annealing and thermal ablation”.
The conference will also reveal many new uses for printed electronics but curiously, the global chemical industry, while leader in making it a reality, is a laggard in using the resulting devices. It needs to learn from leading users of printed and potentially printed electronics such as the pharmaceutical, entertainment, media and consumer goods industries.