Last week the annual IDTechEx Printed Electronics event was held in the heart of Silicon Valley in California. Almost 1200 people attended the conference and 49,000 square-foot exhibition. Much more pronounced this year compared to last year was the greater number of attendees from end user companies. For example, organizations such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Apple sent multiple attendees.
The event opened with end users from many different industries discussing their needs and experiences with the technology. Boeing spoke of their many needs for printed electronics in aircraft - to reduce weight, maintenance and cost. In one of their first uses of printed electronics, their new 747-8 plane now incorporates a partly printed bird strike damage detection sensor. Mike Londo of the $6 Billion packaging company MWV spoke of many examples of electronics in packaging, from scrolling displays to sandwiches which play a tune when the package is opened to anti counterfeiting features in packaging. Other presenters included JCDecaux, the advertising media company, Crayola, Cubic, Kraft and the US Military.
Dr Peter Harrop of IDTechEx showed the booming printed electronics markets at many price points, as shown below. In 2010, the value of the printed electronics market is just under $2 billion according to IDTechEx, with printing only being used in a minority of applications, growing to $56 billion in 2020, where printing is dominate. IDTechEx pointed out the huge range of materials, manufacture methods and components now available, but there are few who are making complete working products - a large opportunity for companies to tackle. IDTechEx also feels the industry needs to address the creation of universal hardware platforms in order to increase volume and reduce cost. In the same way that platforms exist in the conventional silicon world for interfaces such as WiFi communications, timers etc, basic platforms are needed in printed electronics which include timers, RFID, display controllers etc. These can be used as needed to create many different devices for diverse applications.
There were many new announcements at the show, highlights include:
- The launch of a fully printed identification device that can be read by a capacitive touch screen device, demonstrated by Printechnologics. The company is funded by 3M New Ventures. http://www.printedelectronicsworld.com/articles/printechnologics_aircode_touch_now_available_00002872.asp
- Parc and Soligie announced an agreement to commercialize printed electronics technologies, with Parc providing fundamental device structure and Soligie manufacturing expertise. http://www.printedelectronicsworld.com/articles/parc_and_soligie_to_commercialize_printed_electronics_technologies_00002880.asp
- PST Sensors has been spun out from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The company is developing printed silicon ink and its first product range is printed temperature sensors http://www.printedelectronicsworld.com/articles/pst_sensors_spin_out_launched_from_cape_town_00002863.asp
- Thin Film Electronics launched a toy development kit to enable end users to test the technology http://www.printedelectronicsworld.com/articles/thinfilm_toy_development_kit_launched_00002884.asp
- T-ink and Ink-Logix previewed their printed control unit for automotive applications, significantly reducing weight, cost and size compared to conventional electronics.
- BMS-owned Artificial Muscle demonstrated their all-printed electroactive polymers. Early next year their first major application customer will be announced, which will be a haptic feedback use of the technology.
- Applied Nanotech unveiled transparent conductive substrates using copper-based printed meshes http://www.printedelectronicsworld.com/articles/applied_nanotech_holdings_introduces_exclucent_8482_during_pe_usa_20_00002878.asp
Printed Electronics Award Winners
The fourth annual printed electronics winners were announced on Dec 1st at the IDTechEx Awards Dinner. The awards recognize outstanding progress in the development and commercialization of printed electronics, an industry that produces a huge amount of technical innovation which will be used in many products. The entries were judged by an eminent panel comprising of Dr Steven Novack, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), USA; Professor Iain McCulloch, Imperial College London, UK and Professor Vivek Subramanian, University of California, Berkeley, USA.
Best Technical Development Materials Award - IBM
Best Technical Development Manufacturing Award - AIXTRON
Academic R&D Award - University of California, San Diego
Best Product Development Award - T-ink and Ink-Logix
Best Commercialization Award - E-Ink Holdings, Inc
Best in Show Award - NovaCentrix
Best in Show Award - Novalia
The Best in Show Awards were voted for by attendees. NovaCentrix had provided each attendee with printed copper oxide ink, and on the show floor their tool was used to reduce this to conductive copper traces.
Printed Electronics Europe 2011
The annual IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe 2011 event will be held in Dusseldorf, Germany, on April 5-6. It is Europe's largest event on the topic and will move the topic forward by covering perspectives from many new end users, and the latest progress with the technology. Registration is now open - book early for the best rates. For more details please see www.IDTechEx.com/peEUROPE. The event features tours to local organizations involved in the topic, including the Metro Future Store.