The automotive sector has always been a multi-faceted industry to understand; it has driven and adopted societal and technological change since its inception, and is probably a great example of a market that constantly evolves and re-defines itself, always innovating to meet consumer expectations. The newest IDTechEx report on the topic of integrating printed and flexible electronics in vehicle finds that the overall market for printed and flexible electronics is expected to reach $5.5 Billion by 2026, primarily driven by the growth of technologies such as structural/in-mould electronics and OLED displays. (source: IDTechEx report "Printed and Flexible Electronics in Automotive Applications 2016-2026", www.idtechex.com/peauto)
Printed and flexible electronics in automotive applications: 3-year forecast of revenue growth. (Source: IDTechEx report "Printed and Flexible Electronics in Automotive Applications 2016-2026", www.idtechex.com/peauto )
As can be seen from the graph above, OLED is fast becoming a multibillion dollar market, and the automotive sector is already a significant adopter. But despite the significant market share that OLED will hold in the growth of these technologies in vehicles, printed electronics in is not going to be just about OLED. In fact, there's significant interest worldwide in many other printed and flexible technologies that are envisaged to be integrated in vehicles, due to the flexibility, light weight, as well as other advantages that they enable.
Take printed sensors and the advent of the connected vehicle for instance. Concepts such as the IoT and the trillions of nodes required in the IoT era - with the connected car bearing a large percentage of those nodes- point towards the same direction of increased output of connected devices, most of which will be equipped with arrays of sensors.
Currently, approximately 15 types of sensors are shipping in billions/year or close to that volume, but this is expected to accelerate due to economic tides and increasing demand. New types of sensors will emerge and will be integrated in vehicles.
In the automotive industry in specific, printed sensors can enable increased volumes while keeping manufacturing costs low, thus enabling many new applications for emerging types of sensors in the automotive industry. Already examples exist with companies such as IEE in Luxemburg (a leading developer of automotive safety sensing solutions) printing seat sensors, with further efforts to integrate additional functionalities as vehicles become more "aware" of their condition and surroundings.
Manufacturing of flexible/printed sensors is gaining pace worldwide with government grants and funding increasing, and a significant interest from automotive OEMs worldwide. This wave of interest is giving the industry much needed support and investment that will help create new manufacturing paradigms and components, solve problems and overtake challenges.
The IDTechEx Show! Stay updated on the latest progress
The IDTechEx show has been a fantastic forum to keep abreast with innovation in emerging technologies for 12 years now and continues to be the biggest series of global events on the topic. Always aiming to bring adopters and technology developers together, there's significant presence from automotive OEMs at the event, following the latest developments, finding solutions, and discussing their needs and requirements. Futaba and Osram, already supplying OLEDs to the automotive industry are going to be discussing their technologies at the conference, while sensing technologies are also taking center stage, on the dedicated IDTechEx Sensors! collocated conference.