Commercialization will be Important Focus of PE Europe 2012

The printed electronics (PE) market is starting to see solid movement toward commercialization, as products begin to reach the market. Meanwhile, more and more companies are taking notice of the possibilities.

The gains being made by PE will be one of the major aspects of Printed Electronics Europe 2012, which will be held April 3-4, 2012 at the Estrel Berlin Convention Center in Berlin, Germany. Hosted by IDTechEx, Printed Electronics Europe 2012 features presenters from some of the largest corporations in the world.

Presenters include representatives from Samsung ($220 billion in sales in 2011); Panasonic ($109 billion); Metro Stores ($88 billion); Procter & Gamble ($82 billion); United Technologies Research ($52 billion); Abbott ($35 billion); and Schneider Electric ($26 billion).

Raghu Das, IDTechEx’s CEO, said that these companies, many of whom are presenting for the first time, clearly showcase the growing presence of printed electronics.

“Among the first adopters of printed electronics are CPG companies, with numerous commercial successes of printed electronics in packaging,” Das said. “They seek brand enhancement, product differentiation, reasons for premium pricing, better consumer experience and much more. The volumes of products are tremendous - trillions of items per year. Here, the world’s leading CPG companies and retailers will discuss what is next.”

Healthcare is another important field where printed electronics is already making a difference, and Das said that PE Europe 2012’s attendees will hear success stories from Abbott and IMC.

“Printed electronics is used in making more than one billion glucose test strips each year,” he noted. “Now we have smart blister packs to monitor medication compliance, and many more new innovations to meet the needs for the burdened healthcare system.”

In addition, Schneider Electric and Fulton will show how electrical companies are utilizing PE.

“Printed electronics is enabling thinner, more robust and better consumer electronics,” Das said. “This session covers the printed electronics strategy of several world leading electronic and electrical companies.”

Architecture and the built environment and textiles (will also be on hand to present talks on PE’s role in their respective fields. 

PE Europe 2012 will also have a full range of technical tracks. Das noted that the conference is structured so that the full range of options will be covered by different companies, followed by open discussion with the audience. One key area is the choice between OLED vs. LED lighting, which will feature speakers from Panasonic, NthDegree and Thorn Lighting.

“It has taken 20 years for LED lighting to become 3% of the $80 billion global lighting market, but it is now exponentially growing, appearing in everything from car headlights to home lighting to street lighting,” Das noted. “What is the impact on OLED lighting? Will those in OLED lighting achieve efficiencies, yields and lifetimes fast enough before LED becomes ingrained?

“Printing is already being applied to LED lighting for connectors and even printing LEDs themselves,” Das added. “Others are mounting LEDs on flexible substrates. But will the thermal problems restrict the applicability of LED lighting on flexible substrates, paving the way for OLED lighting there? Who is investing in OLED lighting manufacturing?”

The Future of Transparent Conductors is another interesting segment for attendees.

“Indium tin oxide (ITO) is still about 95% of the $3.5 billion transparent conductive film market,” Das said. “Indium is subject to supply restriction and its price has varied by a magnitude in the last 10 years. It is required primarily for photovoltaics, displays and touch screen applications, which are enormous markets. Alternatives to ITO include transparent organic materials, finely printed conductive mesh, and other ways of patterning metal 'strands.' Some even use copper rather than silver to reduce cost. Others are progressing carbon nanotubes and graphene as a viable alternative. Do all these choices have a market and what is their opportunity?”

Das noted that other areas of interest include the Energy Storage Gold Rush, flexible and stretchable electronics, actuators, sensor technology and bi-stable displays.

Each year, Printed Electronics Europe and its sister conference, Printed Electronics USA, have enjoyed growth in terms of attendees and exhibitors, and Das said this year’s programs will likely continue that trend.

“With more than a month to go we exceeded the number of booths that we had at Europe last year, and are still dealing with a lot of people who are likely to exhibit,” Das said. “We are on track to achieve 1,300 to 1,500 attendees, a high growth compared to last year. In particular, we are seeing many more bookings by end users, where we have targeted our marketing, and many of those are sending multiple attendees. For our U.S. event at the end of the year we also expect to see significant growth there, too, because we are translating our attention on technology commercialization to that event as well.”

Das said that above all, it is important for attendees to see that printed electronics is indeed moving forward toward the market.

“Our aim has been to continue to design the printed electronics event around commercialization of the technology,” Das concluded. “This is the event where exhibitors and attendees meet customers and not competitors.”