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PE USA 2016 Shows Growth of Flexible Electronics

By David Savastano, Editor | November 23, 2016

Speakers, exhibitors share new technologies with more than 3,300 attendees.

Printed Electronics USA 2016 headed into its closing session on Nov. 18 with plenty of news for attendees to gather during its eight concurrent sessions and more than 200 exhibitors.
 
The conference, organized by IDTechEx and held at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, featured sessions for printed electronics, 3D Printing, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage Innovations, Graphene, Internet of Things (IoT) Applications, Sensors, and Wearables.
 
Raghu Das, IDTechEx’s CEO, said the growth of this year’s conference shows the industry is emerging. Attendance is one sign of expansion, as attendance at this year’s conference was up 10% from last year.
 
“It has been really good,” Das said. “We have had a great turnout. We think we have had about 3,300 attendees and 209 exhibitors, up from 180 last year. What’s been really exciting is that a lot of things are coming to commercialization. We’ve seen a lot of simpler things that offer benefits.”
 
There were interesting talks throughout the eight concurrent sessions. Dr. Arne Fleissner senior engineer, at OSRAM OLED GmbH, gave a fascinating talk on “Flexible OLED For Automotive Lighting: Prospects, Trends And Recent Results.”
 
OSRAM has made significant inroads in OLEDs for the automotive market, with its OLEDs now appearing on the BMW M4 GTS and Audi TT RS.
 
“This year was a tipping point as we reached the mass market,” said Dr. Fleissner.
 
Dr. Fleissner noted that OLEDs have numerous advantages, as they can provide a mirror finish, be transparent, segmented, flexible, and are ultra-flat ultra-lightweight, consume less power and offer the potential for individual styling.
 
“We believe that the automotive market will be the first mass market,” Dr. Fleissner noted. “Automotive will be very much design driven, and will be followed by general lighting. Environmental exposure was a major challenge. Temperatures can range from -40°C to 105°C. There are horrible environmental conditions - humidity, temperature, corrosive gases and sunlight exposure.”
 
In Track 1’s session on Flexible Displays and Lighting, Ynvisible CEO Jani-Mikael Kuusisto discussed the company’s developments in his talk on “Printed Electrochromics: The Face Of The Internet Of Everything.”
 
“Our proprietary electrochromic displays are screenprintable on plastic or paper, and act as the face of smart labels,” Kuusisto said. “There is a pull in the market, and we are working with consumer brands.”
 
He was followed by Frank Christiaens, CEO and chairman of CLEARink Displays, who covered “Video Capable Reflective Displays For Ultra Low Power Applications.”
 
“Smart watches and phones are so power hungry that the displays need to be switched off,” Christiaens observed. “We offer extremely low power full color reflective displays for mobile Internet connected devices. We are focused on wearables and other applications.”
 
In the Track 4 session on Sensors Enabling The Internet Of Things, Jack Fan, application engineer for Innovative Sensor Technology, analyzed “New MID Packaged Sensor To Measure Ultra-Low Mass Flows Or Differential Pressures Down To 5 Millipascals.”
 
“We make low power flow sensors for markets such as handheld devices, HVAC, appliances and automotive,” Han said. “We also make sensors for humidity, temperature, conductivity and biosensors.”
 
Dr. Joseph Stetter, president and CTO at SPEC Sensors, closed that session with his talk on “Printing Billions Of Tiny Low-Cost High-Performance Gas Sensors For Environmental And Wearable Applications.” SPEC Sensors’ screenprinted sensors cover carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen peroxide.
 
“Our goal is low cost, high volume, high performance sensors, and are focusing on making the best gas sensors,” Dr. Stetter said.
 
Thoughts on PE USA 2016
 
Exhibitors agreed that Printed Electronics USA 2016 was a success, as the concurrent sessions brought in new people interested in how they can use the technology.
 
Mike O’Reilly, director, Aerosol Jet product management at Optomec, Inc., noted that the show has changed from people just looking around to now having real applications.
 
“Some years ago, people would come by and ask what printed electronics are,” O’Reilly said. “Today they come by with real problem and we try to help them solve their problems. We try to fit in with the technology they have.”
 
Thin Film Electronics (Thinfilm) exhibited many of its latest successes, including recent collaborations with iOlive on authenticating olive oil, Hopsy on engaging craft beer customers, and Sarine to create digital identities for diamonds and gemstones.
 
“The show has been great, with a lot of steady interest,” said Marge Ang, Thinfilm’s senior director, marketing communications. “We cover a lot of diverse markets, and we are seeing increased interest in fast moving consumer goods brands. The market is growing, and we are scaling up very quickly.”
 
XENON Corporation showed a series of new developments, including its X-1100 high intensity pulsed light system, its new low-cost benchtop R&D system. Lou Panico, XENON’s CEO, said that attendee interest shows that the X-1100 fits a need in the market.
 
“We are getting huge interest in the X-1100, which offers a low cost entry into the flexible electronics market,” said Panico. “It is ideal for R&D and the lab, and customers can upgrade very easily. It is compact, easy to use and is cost efficient.”
 
Panico said that this year’s PE USA was the strongest yet. “This is the best one yet,” Panico said. “The level of attendee interest is definitely up.”
 
Panico observed that there is movement among equipment manufacturers to develop partnerships and integrate machinery.
 
“This is the time I believe that the machine makers are ready to develop partnerships with equipment manufacturers,” Panico noted. “People who are making machines want readily available modules that are low cost with a small footprint to plug into their systems, and that is our forte.”
 
Elise Alkhafaji, marketing specialist for NovaCentrix, said that PE USA 2016 was a success for NovaCentrix.
 
“We are meeting companies that are focused on where our tools fit in for their end products,” Alkhafaji noted. “We are working on meeting with designers so they can integrate our capabilities. We are also now focusing on our stretchable inks, such as our Metalon HPS-FG32 silver screen ink, as well as our roll-to-roll tools designed for inkjet and for flexo.”

Frank Schaefer, sales director at KROENERT GmbH & Co KG, said PE USA 2016 was better than 2015. “We are having more contact with various industries,” Schaefer observed. “The show is so diversified, which is ideal for us. I am also quite surprised by the high number of international customers.”
 
“We’ve had good traffic throughout, people ranging from companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google to start-ups and a lot in the middle,” Jaye Tyler, president and CEO of Si-Cal Technologies Inc. – A Nissha Company, said.
 
“I feel like foot traffic and high quality contacts are up significantly,” said Dr. Brad Larson, SonoPlot’s co-founder and CEO.
 
Tim Luong, national sales manager, Ceradrop MGI Group, said that there is increased interest in the technology.
 
“The diversity of the attendees is increasing with all new topics such as traditional printing, 3D printing wearables and sensors,” Luong added.
 
Roy Bjorlin, commercial and strategic initiatives director, printed electronics for Sun Chemical’s Advanced Materials Group, said the show was really successful. He added that the company is currently integrating its recent acquisition of the Gwent Electronics Materials company.
 
“Things are going very well,” Bjorlin said. “We are working on the Gwent integration. Their team and their portfolio are fantastic.”
 
Dr. Allen Reid, commercial director, NANOGAP, said that NANOGAP is promoting novel charge transfer complexes for anti-counterfeit applications. “The show has had more traffic than last year and a broader range of applications,” Dr. Reid reported.
 
Thomas Kolbusch, VP, Coatema Coating Machinery GmbH, said he saw a lot more attendees on the exhibition floor. “Day 1 was excellent compared to last year, as we had 30% more traffic and Day 2 has been good,” Kolbusch said. “We are seeing a lot of new faces.”
 
Mark Duarte, director of business development at Eastprint Incorporated, said that the show was very good, and is ideal for Eastprint’s expertise in functional printing.
 
“Functional printing is one of our core competencies,” Duarte added. “The first day was crazy. I’ve been attending since its inception and it is always growing.”
 
John Palazzolo, director, marketing and sales at Adphos North America, Inc., said that Adphos had its best PE USA conference to date this year.
 
“This is our fourth year at PE USA, and this is by far the best we have seen,” Palazzolo said. “Traffic is way up. We have received many projects to start on, and are advancing some of our present projects further. There are more consumer good companies working internally on their own projects.”