Bigger than the silicon chip
Nowadays, the term printed electronics is used to encompass both electronic and electric functions. It promises to replace most lighting and put disposable batteries in vast numbers of products, not just make smart packages talk and show whether they have been misused, display moving colour advertisements and so on. Little wonder, then, that there is a consensus that this will be much bigger than the silicon chip market. Or that it will, paradoxically, little impact silicon chip sales for at least fifteen years. Here we are talking about new markets in the main - achieving the unachievable.
Indeed, printed electronics is also merging with printed electrics. We have experimental scanners that are sheets of plastic printed with logic and photosensors. We have electronically controlled darkening windows that generate electricity. We have the time temperature indicating label with photovoltaic power printed into it. Georgia Institute of technology will talk about that one.
Organic dominant but surprises keep coming
While most of the market for printed electronics will be served by organic devices, IDTechEx consider it important to analyse the total picture and indeed the competition between organic and inorganic solutions to the same problem. For example, Hewlett Packard and the University of Illinois have both researched inorganic semiconductors for printing and both will speak at the conference. Organic conductors look like coming a poor second to inorganic ones for most printed applications - from antennas to anti-static coatings and RF shielding - but the situation is fluid, if you excuse the pun.
IDTechEx forecast the following split between organic and inorganic printed electronics in $ billions globally in 2025
However, progress towards this will be exponential, not linear, and, in 2010, it will be Organic light Emitting Diodes not logic/ memory that will be in the ascendant because it is already so advanced and into the market. The organic sector will divide as follows.
IDTechEx forecast of organic electronics $ billions globally in 2010
However, all forecasts are fallible with the breakthroughs coming thick and fast. For example, the dream of one gigabyte of non-volatile memory printed on a stamp-sized fleck of plastic and sold for a few cents could revolutionise packaging, merchandising, toys and much else besides. Thin Film Electronics of Sweden are working on this but the company has been secretive about its progress. There will therefore be great interest in what it has to say at this conference. Progress towards flexible displays, including ones so cheap they are disposable, is also a hot topic. This will be aired by 3M and others.
Wide area displays
When will we have the moving colour billboard poster that is remotely reprogrammed and saves the cost of route men while having a dazzlingly greater impact than paper applied with a broom? Alternatively, when will we have the non-volatile display that is used for supermarket and airport signage, needing no electricity between changes of message and graphics? They don't have sticky images that are difficult to change any more and they are no longer limited to black and white.
Competing with paper and electronic components
Yes, printed electronics will compete will paper. The printers and paper makers present will be very interested in that. In this torrent, which log do you jump off of and which do you jump on to? We have much more than a topic solely for the attention of electronics techies and material scientists. Even label converters are becoming keenly aware of the opportunities. Indeed, VTT of Finland will talk of their roll-to-roll process for making OLED displays and Sharp of Japan and others will reveal flexible display technology. NXT will demonstrate loudspeakers as laminates and printed batteries will be examined by Thin battery technologies.
Most forms of printing are being used or studied for creating printed electronics, including screen, flexo, gravure and ink jet. Adaptations of standard machines are becoming available as are dedicated new machines. The conference covers key aspects, care of MAN Roland, Microdrop Technologies, Dimatix, IT Strategies and others.
In the conference, the creative marketing side will also be covered by T-Ink, Mead Westvaco, Panipol of Finland and others - the creation of new toys, healthcare packaging, merchandising features and so on with these technologies. Because of the real world bias of the conference, marketers, brand managers, venture capitalists and others will find much to take away and they will hear the breakthroughs first from a truly global lineup of experts.
For more attend the conference Printed Electronics USA Naples Florida December 7-8 2005 www.printelec.com . There are two optional pre-conference Masterclasses (Introduction to Printed Electronics, RFID and Smart Packaging and one post conference Masterclass Ink Jet Technology).