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Feb. 22, 2016: EE Times

Sky’s the Limit for Printed/Flexible Electronics Market

Harry Zervos, IDTechEx

The printed and flexible electronics market segment is expected to be worth over $69 billion by 2026.

The last couple of years have seen the market for printed and flexible electronics become a vibrant segment, with new products announced that are making the advent of printed electronics a reality. This market segment is expected to be worth over $69 billion by 2026.

Printed Electronics: Market forecast by component type in US$ billions (Source: IDTechEx)

We are also witnessing the use of components as enabling devices for flexible, hybrid, textile, or wearable electronics in a variety of sectors, from the automotive to smart packaging to medical/healthcare and others.

Technology developers moving downstream

Bluespark Technologies is a great example of one of the many technology providers moving downstream in the supply chain, with their TempTraq wearable wireless thermometer that incorporates the company's printed, flexible battery technology. TempTraq is the first 24-hour disposable patch that is, in essence, an intelligent thermometer that continuously senses, records, and sends alerts of a child's temperature to compatible mobile devices via a dedicated mobile app.

The TempTraq intelligent thermometer/disposable patch from Blue Spark (Source: Blue Spark Technologies)

Enfucell in Finland, on the other hand, is incorporating its SoftBattery into a variety of sports and fitness wearable products. For example, the company has demonstrated a disposable golf sensor patch that is attached to a golf club head in order to help players improve their swing. Again, the acquired data is transferred via low energy Bluetooth (BLE) to an application on a mobile device, with the Enfucell battery powering the BLE data transmission. Similar patches can be tailored for other racquet sports, shooting, bowling, etc. Enfucell is also developing, in conjunction with its partners, disposable skin-related wearables that include multisensor patches and iontophoresis applications for effective delivery of cosmetics and drugs.

Also of interest is that fact that the company has demonstrated the use of its battery in cold chain monitoring, which is becoming increasingly important in the pharmaceutical industry. In this case, a fully integrated temperature logger label with chip, printed NFC antenna, and printed battery supports logging functionality similar to that of a reusable logger, but form factor and product cost enable item-level logging.

Cutting-edge technologies coming to market

Whether it's polymer nanostructures enabling sensing in home appliances by Electrolux, wearable sensors deployed in clinical trials by Glaxo Smith Kline, or the needs and requirements when integrating printed electronics technology in creating newer, lower-cost, yet robust diagnostic tools by Abbot -- all of these companies, and more, are bringing to market an exciting array of new products and technologies. You can learn more at the IDTechEx Show in Berlin, April 27-28.

Harry Zervos is Principal Analyst/Business Development Manager, North America, at IDTechEx.

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