Plenary Session and Talks
Wolfgang Mildner, LOPEC general chair and founder/CEO of MSW, opened the Plenary Session with some insights into the market.
“This year we have 153 exhibitors and 1,620 square meters of exhibition space, which is a record,” Mildner noted. “We have grown out of the B.0 Hall and had to remove the catering space. The first LOPEC had 50 exhibitors, 600 visitors and 212 square meters of space. In 2017, LOPEC had 1,620 square meters and 2,585 visitors, and we intend to grow.”
Mildner also noted that there are 183 presentations this year, and that the Demo Line is printing NFC to power LEDs and flexible hybrid systems.
Dr. Heidi Fagerholm, head of advanced technologies, Merck KGaA, discussed Merck’s 350-year anniversary in her talk on “350 Years of Innovation is Just the Beginning!”
“Merck was founded in 1668, and started as a pharmacy,” Dr. Fagerholm said. “Merck built its success on healthcare, life sciences, performance materials. In the 1970s, Merck the first liquid crystals were developed, and it took off in the 1990s. We are also investing on OLEDs and quantum materials, and we continue to look into display technologies such as flexible and foldable.” Dr. Fagerholm added that Merck also produces integrated circuit materials, advanced technologies, pigments and functional materials.
Prof. Dr. Karl Leo of the Technische Universität Dresden (IAPP) discussed “Novel Flexible Organic Devices for ‘Soft-Electronics’ Applications,” with an eye on transplants and other medical procedures.
“Soft electronics includes sensors that can transmit data immediately to the doctor,” Dr. Leo observed. “Our Smart Sheet needs flexible organic transistors, flexible organic IR detection sensors and improved electrodes. Our vertical transistors show outstanding performance despite low mobility.”
Francesca Rosella, chief creative director and co-founder of CuteCircuit, and Ryan Genz, the company’s CEO, closed the Plenary Session with “CuteCircuit’s Pioneering Work, Transforming Wearable Technology into Fashion - 15 Years of Groundbreaking Fashion Innovation.” CuteCircuit specializes is blending technology in fashion, perhaps most notably for Katy Perry, who appeared in a CuteCircuit lighted dress for American Idol in 2014.
One interesting application is the Sound Dress, in which vibrations from music set off sensors that pulse, allowing deaf people to enjoy the sensation of music.
“Several deaf people tested the shirt and reported that could feel the music all over their body,” Rosella said.
“You are living in the future and you should dress like it,” Rosella concluded.
After the Plenary Session, the OE-A and Messe Muchen held a press conference, in which the theme of the past, present and future was explored.
Dr. Martin Lechner, Messe Munchen’s executive director, new technologies, reported that the exhibit space was up 6%. “It is time to celebrate LOPEC’s 10th anniversary,” Dr. Lechner added.
OE-A chairman Jeremy Burroughes, CTO at C DT, then discussed how he has seen LOPEC grow over the past 10 years.
“The change is enormous, Burroughes said. “There has been a move from technology push to market pull. OLED displays are the biggest success stories in PE.
“The entire industry expects a successful year in 2018,” he added. “There is an estimated $35 billion in sales in 2018, growing to $74 billion in 2027, and 87% of our members expect an increase in the industry, with the largest growth in consumer electronics and automotive markets.”
Burroughes offered the example of electronic systems in cars. In 1950, 2% of the cost of the car’s value was electronics, which will grow to half by 2030.
Mildner, the LOPEC chair, then offered his thoughts.
“We can show how our new technology built the market,” said Mildner. “Now the markets ask for the technologies to help it grow further. It was technology driven and is now application driven. High potential industries are mobility & automotive (lighting, sensors, user-interface elements and design elements) and wellbeing & healthcare (wearables, sensors, smart textiles, accessories and pharma packaging). This is a very young technology but it is also has to be very flexible to solve the issues.”
There was also a very interesting healthcare forum, “The Future of Healthcare and Wellness: Market Opportunities for Printed and Organic Electronics.”
Moderated by Dan Rogers of Smithers Apex, the panel consisted of Prof. Dr. Ana Claudia Arias of University of California Berkeley; Enid Kivuti, director of innovation and technology at Multek Flexible Circuits; Dr. Juha Virtanen, principal engineer, Wearable Sensors, GE Healthcare;and Axel Steinhage, R&D director for Future-Shape.
The panelists discussed some of the opportunities they are seeing.
“The trend of medicine and telemedicine is as a way to reach to underserved people who may have to go a long way to see a doctor, and you could attach something to a person and be able to do readings by smartphone or through the cloud,” Kavuti said.
“One of most fascinating things is the quantified self – many people today do not mind monitoring their own health,” said Steinhage.
“I think there are many opportunities for printed electronics on wearables, especially for one-time use items,” Dr. Arias said. “We can customize for design and for size and can integrate easily.”
“It is so important to have reliable readings,” Virtanen said. “Hospitals want to release patients as soon as possible, and there is a good opportunity to help with wearable monitoring. You can monitor vital signs at home.”
The panelists also noted some of the challenges they are facing.
“There are multiple challenges, beginning with data security and privacy for medical products, especially for small companies,” Steinhage said.
Dr. Arias and Virtanen said that finding manufacturers to produce printed sensors, especially small runs for testing, is difficult.
“The step that is missing is to get clinical data and there is no one I can contract out to make 100 sensors,” Dr. Arias said. “It is easy for us to solve the problem we think that exists, but we don’t talk to the patients. Now our students are interviewing doctors about their needs. We have to start talking to the doctors and the patients, as well as the substrate and the materials people.”
“One challenge is that if I would like to make a printed sensor, there is no single place I can go,” Virtanen added. “I expect some kind of ODMs to appear in the future.”
So what does the future hold? The panelists see some interesting possibilities.
“Ten years from now, I think we will be talking about inplanted devices and those that are fully integrated with the skin,” Dr. Arias said.
“I think everything will be predictive, and that predictive medicine will be key,” Kavuti observed. “It comes back to how reliable the base data will be. Sometimes in this age of protecting IP, we need to have more open discussion.”
“In 10 years we will have more robust technology, allowing continuous data continuous data to the cloud,” Virtanen said. “The medical industry is heavily regulated and customers are very slow to adapt new technologies. There is a good chance that these technologies will disrupt this.”
Steinhage used the example of the Alexa home system and how it might interact with healthcare.
“I believe we will have smart environments where people live, and at some point, this will take over healthcare functions,” Steinhage predicted. “I believe that many people will receive healthcare at home, and we should use the technology to take care of the caregivers as well.”