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Flexible electronics equipment makers turn to Asia

Posted: 21 Oct 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:flexible electronics? printed electronics? screen printing? value chain?

The U.S. equipment market has seen steady growth but until now has not been as big a market as it is in Europe due to lack of government funding. This has changed, however, as evidenced by the recently announced $75 million funding for a printed electronics manufacturing hubbut still it is one project, compared to Europe's multiple ventures.

Therefore, we find that equipment makers are turning to Asia. There is an impending transition from equipment for development and prototyping purposes to buying equipment for higher volume manufacture. Here, the equipment focus is different: It is not about making state-of-the-art transistors using printing, but doing simpler things, reliably, that can be used in commercial products today. For example, using inkjet printers for the polymer planarisation layers for barriers on organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) or printing the bezel edge electrodes for touch screens (often which are then patterned with a laser).

We're also seeing an increase in new collaborations in Asia, such as the recent announcement between Foxconn and Cima Nanotech for large touchscreens. So now, the wave of new flexible and printed electronics capability truly becomes applied to product, with equipment companies sending their salespeople out to Asia.

- Raghu Das

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