This decision follows extensive evaluation of multiple markets to determine the most commercially compelling use of the company’s patented process technology innovations and state-of-the-art, production-scale roll-to-roll flexible electronics factory located in San Jose, CA.
To address the sizeable existing and expanding applications for wearable devices and connected sensors, the company is developing a family of rechargeable solid-state lithium battery (“SSLB”) products that are ultrathin, flexible, reliable, safe, and cost effective.
Thinfilm’s facility, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, is ideally positioned to spark rapid development of differentiated products that will offer the wearable market, estimated by IDTechEx to reach $64 billion in 2020 and growing at a 9.5% CAGR through 2024, a superior alternative to today’s pouch and coin cell batteries.
Thinfilm’s distinct value proposition will enable technology innovation by unleashing designers’ creativity, previously limited by the lack of flexibility inherent in existing battery technology.
Thinfilm battery solutions incorporate an innovative solid electrolyte material that enables thinner, stackable cells that can endure more charging cycles and deliver more power at sub-freezing temperatures, compared to commonly used battery technologies. Because the solid electrolyte cannot catch fire or explode, Thinfilm SSLBs can also improve the safety profile for wearable and medical applications.
"Thinfilm’s shift to the development and production of value-added battery solutions represents a more compelling application of its large-area, roll-to-roll flexible electronics manufacturing capabilities and patented process innovation," Thinfilm CEO Kevin Barber said. "Our thin, light, flexible, safe, and cost-effective battery solutions can enable innovative and highly sought-after products in important existing markets. We forecast significantly improved margins, at significantly lower factory utilization, compared to our previous NFC business model."
Initially pioneered by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1990s, SSLB technology is primarily used in embedded electronics applications including real-time clock and SRAM backup.
However, the technology’s deployment has been limited by dependencies on rigid substrates, fragile materials, and small-scale manufacturing methods. In contrast, Thinfilm is well positioned to bring the advantages of SSLB technology to a broader market due to the company’s unique combination of existing capabilities, including roll-based production, robust metal foil substrate handling, materials expertise, and manufacturing process knowhow.
By leveraging its core capabilities in materials and manufacturing innovation, the company believes it can produce compelling energy storage products that provide greater battery life and improved reliability, with the form-factor flexibility to create unique battery shapes enabling sleek, comfortable end products.
The company will initially focus on key portions of the wearables and sensor markets, particularly the rapidly growing connected and wearable medical sensing market, in which continuous glucose monitoring alone is forecasted to double in volume to over 100 million units by 2023, according to IDTechEx.
Beyond wearable medical sensing, Thinfilm has identified several additional growing applications in existing markets that are expected to provide meaningful opportunities for additional growth.
To accelerate the development of ultrathin battery technology in the San Jose factory, Thinfilm has entered into a partnership with a leading process technology development company.
Based on the company’s decision to leverage existing intellectual property and manufacturing assets in the execution of its revised strategy, Thinfilm does not currently expect to issue warrants authorized in the Oct. 23, 2019 Extraordinary General Meeting.
Additionally, the Company is actively working to monetize the CNECT platform and related NFC assets and is currently evaluating offers from potential acquirers who are interested in deploying NFC solutions supported by a robust data analytics software platform.
To reflect the company’s updated strategy, Thinfilm has launched its new corporate website.