Electronics meets plastics:
Organic electronics is here to stay
The very idea is fascinating: extremely thin, transparent films on the outside of windows being used to generate electricity, while transparent OLED films on the inside of the window pane enable people to watch television. The development of new electronics continues apace. International key players are showing their solutions at this year's LOPE-C, International Conference and Exhibition for the Organic and Printed Electronics Industry. The event reflects the respective markets and the progress made, focussing on end-use applications, their requirements, manufacturing processes and materials. The LOPE-C will be held from June 11 to 13 in Munich.
The technological requirements of future applications primarily mean combining inexpensive electronics that can record, process and display data immediately with simple everyday products. Organic electronics can do just that, because its main advantage lies in its manufacture: the polymer materials can be dissolved and then deposited like electronic ink by a printing process as functional structures on various flexible films and substrates. The availability of the base materials is virtually unlimited. So it is possible to print wafer-thin electronics covering a large area. The printing process is already being used to make transistors, light-emitting diodes, solar cells, sensors, batteries and displays. The technology permits to build small, handy and easy-to-use systems. The rather recent technological field of printed electronics is already a multi-billion dollar market - with significant growth rates.
Dr. Klaus Hecker, Managing Director of the OE-A (Organic and Printed Electronics Association) estimates that the global market for organic electronics will continue to thrive: "Printed electronics opens up a huge potential, as this technology is not only usable in established industries, but also enables new types of functions." That could be so-called intelligent packaging, which light up when someone approaches, or in medicine or pharmaceuticals, with the packaging of a flu drug being able to measure a patient's body temperature.
The world's leading exhibition for printed electronics LOPE-C 2013 is showing numerous new applications and reflects the state of the art in this versatile technology. Moreover, it will present the trends in substrates and materials, and which printing and coating technologies are going to be relevant. The future prospects of organic electronics are highly promising.
"In the next few years, printed electronics will be a key technology, which skilfully combines new materials, processes and functions. This is outlined in detail in the new OE-A Roadmap", says Hecker. With over 210 members worldwide, the OE-A is the leading association in this industry and co-organizer of the LOPE-C, which provides a combination of conference and exhibition, making it the ideal platform for scientific innovations and technological developments. Independent market research firms estimate that the market for the organic electronics is currently around eight billion U.S. dollars. They also predict that the market volume worldwide will grow to over 50 billion U.S. dollars in the next ten years.
Organic electronics are already used inside the displays of smartphones. But it is suitable for doing much more: in the car industry, it serves as an illuminated door sill or to light up the roof lining, thus providing comfort and a feel-good atmosphere inside the vehicle. Printed electronics can facilitate communication between man and machine by means of evenly lit, intuitively and flexibly usable control panels.
Printed electronics have already arrived in medical technology, for example as a glucose test strip. OLEDs are suitable for various mobile devices such as blood glucose meters or for patient monitoring. Hybrid RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, with printed antennas and a tiny Si-chip, are already a firmly established product, used as intelligent labels on product packaging to protect against shoplifting or to identify them during transport. RFID tags also serve as price tags, enabling prices on the shelf to be updated quickly. The latest applications for organic and printed electronics are in e-book readers and touchscreens with capacitive sensors.
from June 11 to 13, 2013 | Fair ground Munich
Images: R. Eberhard, messekompakt, EBERHARD print & medien agentur gmbh
Source: Messe München