OPE Journal

34 MILDNER’S COLUMN No 26 | March 2019 | OPE journal Printed electronics is a key enabling tech- nology. If we travel back in time a bit, printed electronics was seen as the key technology to enable electronics everywhere. This has become reality in some applications. How- ever, this it is not at all an obvious observa- tion. In some cases, it may be reality but pur- posely hidden, integrated or embedded. Let us take a look at what printed electronics has achieved so far and what printed electronics everywhere means today. The advantages and main characteristics of products using printed electronics are • Thin • Flexible • Lightweight Especially in applications where functions need to be integrated, the usage of printed electronics brings value. Starting with the integration of conductive lines to connect components or printing of antennas, to embedded sensors or heating elements. Integration does not stop with printed elec- tronics, conventional electronics such as LEDs and microcontrollers are integrated as well. Hybrid electronics solves both performance and structural requirements. Key enabler Printed electronics is the key enabler to integrate or hide functionality. This leads to advantages thanks to lower weight, lower complexity, better design options and, finally, lower cost. Electronics can be an integrated part of the housing, such as the integrated sensors in a car’s dashboard or the human interface of a coffee machine. It can also be the invisible integrated sensor matrix or heating element in the seat of a car. The obvious killer applications for printed electronics are still missing. Today, printed electronics is hidden and integrated, so it is not easily recognised – but close to being everywhere. Consequently, we need to spread the news: Printed electronics – embedded and inte- grated – is a key enabler for a lot of new products and functions and also new product designs. Thin, flexible and embedded – the values for successful printed electronics pro- jects today. A good place to spread the news is the annual LOPEC (19- 21 March), with an increasing number of applications demonstrated at the exhibition, as well as challenges and potentials being discussed at the different conference parts (business models and applications at the Business Conference, Challenges of upscaling and application challenges at the Technical conference). Image sources: MSWtech Wolfgang Mildner Printed electronics – spread the news Printed electronics spreads out into new regions as well: At OPE MENA in January 2019 in Dubai, applications and products of printed electronics were discussed that could fit well into the region’s requirements One example is the IoTree – an OPV solar cell formed like palm leaves could help in supplying energy to grid-free locations