A common theme in the IDTechEx conference Printed Electronics in Dresden this week was the shortage of creative product design. Those trying to replace displays on television sets and mobile phones are finding it a very expensive and unforgiving exercise as LCDs and other old technologies continue to improve. Ironically, it is being made tougher for new technologies such as OLEDs because the older technologies are being value engineered by introducing a measure of printing with electronic inks - the basis of the new electronics - with some now incorporated in the processes of both Plasma Display Panels PDP and LCD displays. For example, SSCP of Korea has recently substituted six stages of PDP manufacture with one flexographic print stage.
Most agreed that the challenge is to create totally new products that read to the strengths of printed electronics. There were statements such as "A printed battery is not a product". It was therefore not surprising that the presentations by artist Richard Kirk of CPI on "How to Make Money from Printed Electronics" and by designer Matthew Falla of Osmotronic on "From Multi-media to Merged-Media: Transforming Print in the Digital Age" were very well attended and well rated.
Richard drew on his experience running elumin8 where many artists have been commissioned to create imaginative new concepts such as the award winning growth pattern that creeps across a wall - the artist being shown alongside in the image above.
Then there is the prayer mat which lights up when correctly aligned with Mecca and huge logos conforming to the sides of buildings because they are made of light emitting ink, screen printed on printed plastic film. Many other examples of elumin8 innovations were working in the exhibition hall and the lecture theatre.
Richard described the new Cenamps PeTec centre in North England, a $28 million investment, to be on line in September 2008, developing pilot line processes for:
with state of the art equipment and world class industry expertise and using these components to make integrated innovative products.
There are many issues to be resolved in the large scale manufacture of OTFT OPV and SSL. Knowledge from the disciplines of materials science (chemistry/physics), manufacturing processes, and electronic engineering is required to enable significant progress to be made.
PETeC will make available state of the art process equipment coupled with expert knowledge in the area of organic/flexible electronics.
Osmotronic is a London based design company that creates interactive products, services and experiences across print, digital media and physical spaces - Matthew covered the role of design in the development of printed electronics applications. He gave many examples of interactive packaging, posters and so on that are possible with the new technology.
He said, "Print is a medium that ships with intuitive interaction built in. Printed electronics can be an enabling tool for functionality that exploits these interactions. Successful mass market products will focus on user experience in the long term. We are part of an "expectation economy". Successful applications should be simple, versatile and pleasurable. Redefining what products, applications and media are, opens up new opportunities."
He pointed out that successful mass market products focus on user experience. Redefining what products, applications and media are opens up new opportunities - openness and dialogue fosters innovation.
If you missed this event attend Printed Electronics USA 2008.