Flexible and printed electronics are now a reality, as more and more devices with flexible form factors are being brought to market, while atmospheric additive deposition is already offering lower manufacturing costs and superior performance in many applications. This still leaves many applications where the merits of vacuum deposition outweigh the benefits of atmospheric processing, leading component and device manufacturers to choose vacuum processes over printing, or sometimes a combination of both, when that seems to be the ideal combination.
OLED displays are a good example where the advent of printing techniques is meant to bring about much larger displays, manufactured at lower costs but for the time being, the OLED industry makes displays that are almost exclusively vacuum deposited. Encapsulation of flexible displays is another great example: flexible barrier films - whether utilizing CVD or PVD processes or even in cases when ALD is utilized to make high quality, defect free layers- are hugely benefiting from these vacuum deposition techniques and have created encapsulation materials that can reach the water vapor transmission rates required to give flexible OLED displays the necessary lifetimes required.
The conclusion is simple: studying printed electronics will invariably require a deeper understanding of vacuum deposition technologies, the main competitor to printing techniques. Because in the world of emerging electronics, he who does not print, vacuum coats.
The IDTechEx Show! printed electronics and vacuum deposited electronics side by side
The IDTechEx Show! Which comprises of 8 co-located events on a variety of emerging technologies, covering materials, manufacturing technologies and devices, is constantly growing: This year on November 18 & 19, in Santa Clara, CA, over 3,000 attendees and 200 exhibitors are expected to take part in the conference and exhibition, and as attendance increases, IDTechEx tries to incorporate additional themes that are relevant and keep the event fresh and exciting. As the importance of vacuum deposition has already been outlined, the exhibition as well as the conference will feature contributions from end users of vacuum deposition technologies, device manufacturers as well as materials and manufacturing equipment suppliers to this exciting market segment.
Currently confirmed speakers such as Applied Materials, Vitriflex and TerraBarrier will give insights on different aspects of vacuum deposition, with devices and equipment will have to defend their value proposition vs. other deposition techniques that would look to take over part of the market.
As for the exhibition: Equipment manufacturers like Aixtron, Nisshinbo, Roth & Rau and Ulvac, material suppliers like Heraeus and ANP, companies active in the field of transparent conductive films such as Cambrios, Carestream, Henkel, (not necessarily vacuum coater but.... Definitely giving vacuum deposition TCF companies a run for their money), all these, along with companies supplying supporting equipment to vacuum coaters and printers alike (TDK Lambda, Evans Analytics, Vinci Technologies and many others) they will offer an exciting venue for conversations, comparisons and networking.