In the afternoon of the first day of the hugely succesful IDTechEx event Printed Electronics Europe, there was a session on radical new electronics products where Professor Gunther Hubner of the Hochschule der Medien, Stuttgart described how the screen printed radio antennas for cars are ever more complex to accommodate GPS and an increasing number of other frequencies but at least they are profitable, something relatively rare with printed electronics. Other forms of profitable printed electronics include membrane keyboards and ac electroluminescent displays. The moulding process of car antennas when they are sealed in thermoplastic or thermosetting polymers actually improves the conductivity of the silver by compressing the printed particles.
Jorg Fischer of Bundesdruckerei described an imaginative security document feature where an identity portrait in e-paper and a rugged OLED construction is rotated electronically, linked to RFID. Manfred Wagner of Daimler described a host of potential uses of electronic textiles that his team are trialling in cars. These may permit entirely new system approaches, he said, including for heating. A BMBF funded INSITEX project is supporting much of this work.
By contrast, Jana Nyren of Medixine Finland described how its work on preventative medical care involving RFID and communication software is also gravitating towards printed electronics because of compatibility with the human body, safety, cost and other factors. Jens Arnulf Krauss of CSEM Switzerland then extended this theme to wearable, non-obtrusive, optoelectronic life sign monitors with planned redundancy of emitters and receivers and printed batteries being trialled. Generally, printed electronics was proving suitable, particularly as the high power requirement of Bluetooth protocol are not incurred. However, temperature performance can be troublesome.
Toumaz Technology of the UK described its Sensium Body Area Monitoring system which is gravitating towards printed technology, a widening variety of applications becoming possible.
Michel Brarjansky of the Paris transport system RATP felt that disposable ticketing should at best be an interim stage but if it is to be used, the 270 million or so being needed by RATP every year should be printed and no more than three Euro cents each. In the last year, the Moscow metro has taken over 300 disposable RFID tickets and the China railway systems has taken over 100 million but they incorporate chips and are much more expensive. Thus the interest in Kovio with its printed nanosilicon ISO 14443 tickets now being trialled, partly through partners Toppan Printing and Cubic Corporation.