The future of printed electronics


IDTECHEX CEO Raghu Das says current understanding of the roadmap for printed electronics differs significantly from previous perceptions.

Big names in the electronics industry are seeking to expand the use of printed electronics.

According to Das, Samsung Electronics of South Korea is prioritising printed electronics for the future, its commitment extending to making its required materials, production machines and components and manufacturing complete products based on the new technology.

Panasonic of Japan is also seeking to deploy electronic printing much more widely. It is seen as an enabling technology that is already cost reducing their electronic and electrical products.

Printed electronics is used in products today, such as the filter and liquid crystal layers in LCDs and antennas, flexible keyboards and such. Inkjet printing is being rapidly deployed for printing electrodes on solar cells, as the non-contact deposition suits the increasingly thin and fragile solar cells.

Das claims earlier roadmaps for printed electronics were almost entirely erroneous. For example, cost reduction has not panned out to be such a big issue, nor is there a trend towards organic versions taking over most applications.

Printed electronics is no longer focussed mainly on improving existing products, but rather targets doing what was previously impossible to create radically different consumer propositions.

Nokia, for example, is soon expected to make announcements concerning its work on stretchable printed electronics. Printable electronics will allow more noticeable, appealing and informative human interfaces.

With printed electronics, many organisations will be both developers and users of the technology. Additionally, basic building block technologies such as timers and energy harvesting with storage will become important.

Many developers in East Asia now see organic transistors improving in cost and performance too slowly to be the best solution for many high frequency circuits in consumer goods. Printed transistors and electronic parts will be the way forward.

In 2010, several companies such as Novacentrix and intinsiq introduced printable copper, leading to a race to replace silver inks in some applications such as antennas and transistor electrodes and interconnects. Printable CNT, graphene and other conductors and semiconductors are on the line with the promise of even better performance.

More information may be found from the IDTechEx Report “Printed, Organic & Flexible Electronics Forecasts, Players & Opportunities 2011-2021”.