During the 2-day conference and exhibition, both the conference sessions and the trade show floor gave ample chances to almost 1000 attendees to learn of the new advances in the field of printed, thin film and flexible electronics, network and interact with their developers and take a close look at samples and demonstrators that prove that the sector is fast maturing, with new products being introduced and fertile new markets being seeded.
Some of the show highlights are listed below.
Professor Karen Gleason discussed the development of "vapour printing" during the conference, allowing for the deposition of organic molecules on a variety of substrates, even paper. The work at MIT, supported by eni, the Italian oil and gas multinational company, has produced very low cost photovoltaic cells that can be flexed and folded, on a variety of types of ordinary paper (with no treatment required before deposition), using oxidative chemical vapour deposition, a vapour deposition technique suitable for virtually any substrate.
Flexing and folding PV cells
A. on tissue paper
B. on copy paper.
Initial efficiencies are still low but lifetimes achieved for these solar cells are already quite promising, with un-encapsulated cells working very well even after 6 months after manufacture. Commercialization efforts might lead to lower cost solar cells for a large variety of applications, such as portable/disposable power, window blinds etc.
Mars, the chocolate, confectionery and beverage conglomerate (with quite a large presence in the pet food sector too) gave a presentation on the needs of a CPG company that could be addressed utilizing the set of emerging technologies that printed electronics enable. As expected, a large part of the presentation was dedicated to the possibilities of making a product stand out from the competition. In the retail world, that is currently the best way to attract the consumer's attention and increase the possibility of choosing one product rather than the next. Winking logos, flashing images, animated packaging, sounds, etc. are all very interesting ways of making static products more interactive and hence, more attractive to the prospective buyer.
Gerbert Goes said that Mars is aiming to "N.A.G." its prospective customers:
- Get Noticed in store
- Attract the consumers
- Make sure they Get the message
Increasing visibility, quality products and having a clear, consistent message are the best ways to achieve "N.A.G.ing".
Gerbert finally added that technical constraints that need to be addressed in order to see further penetration in the CPG sector are sustainability, power supply and the integration of electronics in packaging substrates such as cardboard paper.
Demonstration Street was rich with samples of printed electronics, comprising both older technologies (such as electroluminescent posters, t shirts and apparel, etc.) but also newer applications of printed electronics such as the printed memory-based game by ThinFIlm or the AirCode by Printechnologics, along with e-readers, electrophoretic display watches, solar cells, solar powered torches, and even socks with sensors integrated into the textile. The variety products in demonstration street was testimony that the number of potential applications is constantly increasing, giving an early message that we might be reaching a tipping point at which adoption of printed electronics technologies will be much wider with end-users finding the appropriate technology that would suit their needs.
Samples and demonstrators weren't only available on Demonstration Street. More than previous years, many of the 93 exhibiting companies brought along products, samples of the technologies they developed and demonstrated to attendees that printed electronics are reaching maturity.
Displays integrated into printed circuit boards or magazines, capacitive sensors printed onto interactive posters, even the cards utilized by conference attendees to vote for the best booth on the tradeshow floor were created by Stora Enso and VTT and integrated several printed electronics technologies on them.
Image: Demonstrators of printed electronics products at the tradeshow floor at Printed Electronics Europe 2011.
For more attend: Printed Electronics USA 2011.