Printed electronics and electrics is now a vast subject as hundreds of companies and thousands of universities develop technologies and products both to create new markets and to enliven old ones. IDTechEx and other analysts see it becoming a market of hundreds of billions of dollars, dwarfing the silicon chip market because it is more generally useful - even including lighting, power storage and many forms of moving colour display. This creates a challenge for those wishing to keep up with what is going on.
How can one get the big picture rather than settle for subsets of the subject such as organic electronics? How can one balance information on the frenzy of work on the glamorous aspects, notably Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) and Thin Film Transistor Circuits (TFTCs) with an understanding of the printed batteries, photovoltaics, memory, sensors and so on that will increasingly be codeposited with them? Increasingly, printed electronics takes the form of flexible, disposable labels, packaging, signage and even billboards. So what are the economics and timelines? What is the big picture?
IDTechEx has designed a conference to address just this. "Printed Electronics Europe 06", in Cambridge UK, has presentations summarising the situation in printed electronics in East Asia and in North America and the other presentations pull together subject areas. The conference is not burdened with blue skies research and obscure science. Rather, it prioritises how to raise money and make money in this subject, with Intel Capital and Amadeus Capital Partners there to explain the investment aspect, based on their own dazzling success in electronics.
The conference covers essential materials advances, how to manufacture printed electronics efficiently and new products arising. Motorola, Konica Minolta, Varta, Hewlett Packard, Intel Capital, Thin Film Electronics and other leaders share their latest breakthroughs. The full range of display technologies and applications is covered - electrochromic, electrophoretic, OLED and electroluminescent, because there is a place for them all. This will be explained by the successful proponents. Unusually, TFTCs are covered from the viewpoint of both inorganic and organic printed semiconductors and the products that will emerge, rather than science for its own sake.
Examples of real applications include major UK store chain John Lewis describing its trials of printed electronic shelf edge displays and Novalia sharing its work on electronic trading cards. The potential benefits of printed electronics over conventional devices in various applications are given in the table below.
The conference "Printed Electronics Europe 06" is in Churchill College, Cambridge UK, April 20-21. The "Meet the Experts Gala Dinner" will be in the legendary sixteenth century Dining Hall of St John's College. There will be two optional Masterclasses introducing the subject on April 19. One will cover Applications and Opportunities and the other covers Technologies, Players and Roadmaps. Attendees will be given the online IDTechEx Printed & Disposable Electronics Encyclopedia. There will be optional tours of the facilities of two local pioneers of printed electronics - Plastic Logic and The Technology Partnership. See www.printelec.com or phone 44 1223 813703.