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Funding rounds drive innovation in printed electronics

Posted: 04 Apr 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:printed electronics? roll-to-roll printing? manufacturing?

Frost & Sullivan has revealed that printed electronics are gaining popularity across applications due to their low cost, high throughput, ease of manufacturing and use in new applications. In addition, the market earned revenue of over $321.8 million in 2010 and estimates this to reach $943.7 million in 2017, indicated the market research firm.

Industries are strongly backing innovations in this domain due to the technology's ability to enable different low-end commercial applications by complementing, instead of replacing, silicon microelectronics. Printed electronics companies can tap into fresh application sectors by making the manufacturing process efficient and affordable. Printing technologies are receiving increased attention from numerous application sectors since they can be patterned on any substrate by using various functional materials. The substrates include flexible media such as paper, textiles, and plastics.

"Investors are increasingly drawn to the printed electronics market due to its low cost of entry and technological knowhow of conventional printing. The conventional printing methods are already mastered and thus reduces chances of any anomaly with the process," said Frost & Sullivan research analyst Nupur Sinha. "The market is also attracting greater investments and support from both organisations and governments, as it aids the production of green electronics by utilising bio-degradable and recyclable materials."

Investors in the printed electronics market will seek high production volumes from the technology, but some techniques such as screen and inkjet printing are relatively slow, which makes them unsuitable for high-volume manufacturing. Soft lithographic techniques used for devices such as transistors, RFID tags and wearable electronics also have limited production volumes.

Currently, there not a one-size-fits-all solution in the market but there are several niche technologies. As such, printed electronics developers are working on enhancing their product design and integration in order to attract investors from high-volume markets.

Furthermore, developers need to lock down a manufacturing technique. Though roll-to-roll printing is effective, other processes involved in the manufacture of the end product needs improvements. Additionally, new techniques still do not have an established method for replicating lab processes while experimenting on press.

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