Quantum reports having output production quantities of electronic paper at its facility. The company’s stated plan is to license its technology to a range of companies, including high-quality conventional printers, for volume production.
Most of the players and analysts involved in this arena don’t have roots in the conventional printing industry. Included are the likes of Samsung and IBM, along with startups such as E-Ink, Plastic Logic and PolyIC. This also makes it more challenging to gauge the implications for printers.
Drawing on their graphic arts industry expertise, researchers Dr. Joe Webb and Vince Naselli of Strategies for Management, in Harrisville, RI, have published a report on this developing market sector. “E-Paper Technology and Opportunities in Publishing, Communications and the Graphic Arts” examines the potential of e-paper applications, from cell phone and PDA displays, packaging and sign-age to replacements for printed media such as books and catalogs.
According to the researchers, “Some forms of e-paper may be manufactured using lithographic or other presses. While the printing of electronics is not something every printer can do, or will be able to do, this should be closely monitored by the industry. We do not expect this to be an extensive industry opportunity, but one that can be significant to a small group of savvy operations.”
Even if printers don’t produce the e-paper, many of the conventionally printed pieces they do produce can be enhanced by the addition of an electronic component, they add. The other part of the equation is creation and repurposing of content that is optimized for use with the display devices enabled by e-paper.
Several factors are combining to increase consumption of digital communications, the researchers observe. Wireless connectivity is expected to continue on a fast track as network coverage expands and speeds increase. Sales of PDAs, laptops and cell phone hybrids are already set to grow, but their adoption and usage should get a big boost from the advantages of e-paper displays.