Wofgang Mildner of PolyIC recently gave a superb presentation on the need for cost reduction of electronic circuits that can only be produced by printing them. He thinks the opportunities for polymer electronics go from simple products for merchandising and brand protection to those with "early standards" such as ticketing and certain track and trace/ anti-diversion then finally Electronic Product Code (tag everything) and specialized applications.
The first target products for PolyIC are RFID labels at 13.56 MHz - the most popular frequency for RFID - initially with just a few bits of data and under ten cents. Lower cost is dependent on addressing material more than process cost. The main electronic challenge is getting up to such a high frequency. At present, PolyIC can achieve 0.6 MHz. They will get there by circuit redesign so only part has to work at the high frequency and by reducing transistor channel length. PolyIC prints on PET. He thinks printing such transistors on paper is a long way away because of surface conditions.
PolyIC has its sights firmly on the tag everything scenario - the RFID tagging of everything sold and more. PolyIC will manufacture the actual products at least initially. His company is concentrating on reel to reel manufacture using adaptation of today's conventional high speed, high definition printing technology.
However, with today's printing machines, the human can see if it looks right but with printing of electronics the quality control is a challenge. PolyIC will create a lead in this essential aspect. He said "There will be no Pentium out of this new electronics" but promised to serve vast markets for lower cost, thinner structures than silicon chips devices can achieve.
Formerly a Siemens subsidiary, his company is now owned by two companies that can help - Kurz, with printing machines, printing competence and access to security markets, and Siemens. He lauded the new Organic Electronics Association that seeks to build a bridge between technology and application, act as a platform for the industry and exchange information and experiences. It already has about 45 members.