Remarkable Changes of Emphasis Revealed at Printed Electronics USA 2006
PHOENIX—12/14/06—Here come the products. The annual IDTechEx event, Printed Electronics USA, took place in Phoenix, Arizona in December 2006 and it was larger than ever before, with over 300 delegates attending. IDTechEx prioritises the commercialisation of this technology in this conference series, which takes place annually in the US, UK and Japan. The term Printed Electronics rather than the old technically-led term Organic Electronics was apposite because, these days, the best devices increasingly involve both organic and inorganic patterning in the same device. But what really matters is do they work and can they benefit society?
This year’s event was very different from previous years in relying less on concepts and dreams and instead seeing the demonstration of a plethora of products for sale or soon to be for sale. These varied from anoraks with printed heating elements to wiring in cars being replaced by cheaper, lighter, less space-consuming printed patterns. There were plenty of light emitting displays, non-emitting displays and photovoltaics on rigid substrates. However, the substrate was more often made of plastic and survival from being hit with a hammer showed the advance these represent. AC electroluminescent displays are ahead in being commonly on flexible substrates and printed today with up to nine inorganic layers on a polymer film and a burgeoning number of commercial successes from the very small to the super billboard twenty meters long.
Most players remain focussed on flexible plastic devices because that increases the potential tenfold with its potentially lower price, lower installation cost and applicability even in the most awkward locations.
The three talks from different parts of the US military illustrated how this sector is still advancing the technology and applications faster than most. Here the objective of reducing the weight of the warfighter’s pack by two-thirds is just as important as making everything serve many purposes, such as the tent that is an antenna and photovoltaic power supply.