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Optoelectronics/Displays??

Printed, flexible electronics market to shoot up 15%

Posted: 23 May 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:OLED? flexible electronics? thin film sensors? supercapacitors?

Research firm IDTechEx forecasts that over the next ten years, the total market value of printed, flexible and organic electronics will shoot up to $76.79 billion from $16.04 billion this year.

The 15 per cent CAGR will be seen across profitable large sectors, the majority being OLEDs (organic but not printed) and conductive ink used for a wide range of applications. On the other hand, stretchable electronics, logic and memory, thin film sensors and other components are much smaller segments today, just emerging from R&D.

So far there have been three billion-dollar sales successes; OLEDs, e-paper and conductive ink. OLEDs are seeing continual adoption in cell phones and OLED TV sales have begun this year. IDTechEx sees much movement in the display sector, as panel makers try and distance themselves from losses in the LCD industry, caused by new competition from China. The landscape will change with some Asian countries potentially unable to afford extensive R&D in OLEDs such as Taiwan. E-paper sales have declined as e-reader sales have declined. To reach that sales peak again new markets are being explored as is colour, video capable bistable displays.

State of commercialisation of printed, organic and flexible electronics in 2013

State of commercialisation of printed, organic and flexible electronics in 2013. Source: IDTechEx.

IDTechEx believes that the overall conductive ink market size will decline in 2013 as it did last year, due to less use in the photovoltaic market. However, thereafter the market will increase again as the PV sector shakes-out and other markets for conductive inks continue to grow.

Some companies have survived ten years without making substantial sales or any profit. Some of these are now repositioning from trying to do something very difficult, such as replacing complete existing devices, to simpler things, allowing them to move to market more quickly. Few can keep going after ten years of minimal sales. Examples of new focus include finely printed patterns for transparent conductive films (a $1.8 billion opportunity), improving the performance of lithium batteries (a $25 billion market), enabling supercapacitors for vehicles and consumer electronics ($0.8 billion in 2013) and adding 3D touch surfaces to many things, as Ford has done for its overhead consoles in some cars.

A few vendors are building ecosystems to develop complete systems- bringing together key enabling components and creating complete working devices. Watch Thinfilm, PARC, PST, PragmatIC and Soligie amongst others. For equipment manufacture it is notable that NovaCentrix and Muhlbauer have come together to provide a turnkey solution for RFID tag manufacture using copper ink for the tag antennas-now the purchaser does not have to try and build the disparate systems themselves. Still, there is quite a way to go. For example, even simply creating hybrid devices-part printed, part conventional on the same substrate is proving a challenge to automate.





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