Printed electronics is a term that encompasses thin film transistor circuits (TFTCs), displays, interconnects, power, sensors and even actuators. Thousands of companies have now entered this market. The printing companies today will be the new electronic giants tomorrow.
Printed electronics is growing to become a $300 billion market and, in 2007 alone, many factories are coming on stream to print, for the first time, transistors, displays and solar cells. Most of the leading electronics and chemical companies are now involved. The advent of foldable electronics, edible electronics, biodegradable electronics, ubiquitous sensor networks and radically improved human interfaces will lead to a host of new products and applications. We shall also have rollable, conformal and wearable electronics thanks to printing. Disposable, flexible products will be particularly important.
However, things are now moving so fast that those seeking an introduction to the subject must find one that is very up to date and far ranging. For example, it would be foolish to appraise plastic electronics alone, given the superb new inorganic electronic inks.
Much of the initial impact of printed electronics lies in replacing and enhancing non-electronic printed products rather than electronic ones. For example, we have the e-book, e-poster, the moving colour billboard and printed RFID labels that can replace many printed barcodes. We
have electronic smart packaging replacing or enhancing non-electronic packaging and its print. To some extent we replace mechanical parts such as keyboards with printed touch pads. Replacing many electronic and electrical components such as car wiring, lighting, button batteries and the electronics in medical testers and toys will create very large sales in 5-10 years.
Powerful new concepts will be more important in driving this market forward than incremental improvements. We shall have origami (foldable) electronics, edible electronics, stretchable electronics, biodegradable electronics, ubiquitous sensor networks and radically improved
human interfaces. We shall also have rollable, conformal and wearable electronics and electrics. These will create many new markets, particularly for disposable, flexible products.
How to learn more
IDTechEx has now provided the newly researched report Introduction to Printed Electronics to address this. We include similar devices that are not yet printed, but are likely to be printed in future, so readers do not miss the big picture.
165 tables and figures, in this 200 page report, distil the information, highlighting where, why and what next. There is a critical look at the many options and projects with a frank assessment of which have a great future and which do not. The report is designed to be easily read; it is free of equations and academic references but it contains much of interest to those with a basic knowledge of chemistry, physics and electronics. The emphasis is on commercialisation, timescales and the many totally new products that will result, with the activities and strategies of over 100 companies compared and contrasted. Quantum dots, wallpaper lighting, origami electronics, smart packaging, electronic skin patches, nanolasers - it is all here. The main sections address the needs, from smart airports to medicine, substrates, the printing technology, printed semiconductors, transistors, memory, seven types of display, four types of lighting and many forms of photovoltaics, battery, fuel cell and sensor that are or will be printed. Many timelines for the future are provided. No other report on the subject is as comprehensive and timely. For more details click here.