Flexible electronics at tipping point of widespread market appeal

By : |February 7, 2014 0

PHOENIX, USA: Flexible electronics is at the tipping point of widespread market appeal and will increasingly be found in a range of “smart” products. This was the conclusion shared by industry experts and market analysts who addressed the 13th Annual Flexible and Printed Electronics & Exhibition.

The event, which began a three-day run today in Phoenix, attracted strong attendance and featured advancements in the field of flexible, printed electronics and displays.

Experts noted the excitement surrounding “wearable electronics” as a primary reason for optimism. Anwar Mohammed of Flextronics explained the market opportunity for wearables, as well as the manufacturing challenges.

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John Batey, who chairs a FlexTech User Group Committee, discussed the results of a survey of potential end users of flexible electronics. According to Batey, 56 percent of respondents indicated some level of future purchases of wearable and disposable electronics within one to three years with 28 percent expecting volumes in excess of 100,00 units annually.

Market leaders Corning Glass and E Ink opened the conference with contrasting presentations revealing the industry’s growing depth. Cynthia Giroux, Corning’s Division VP and Research director for Optics and Surface Technologies, described the ability of flexible Willow Glass to process displays, sensors and other electronic components in a very economical roll-to-roll format.

Corning is a veteran among the US manufacturing companies. E Ink, a relative newcomer, produces materials used in e-readers and other digital products made and distributed by Amazon, among other retailers. Michael McCreary, senior VP and deputy CTO, outlined key personnel ingredients needed for a successful company start-up, which are technical strength, business acumen, and fundraising experience.

He noted that applications for electronic ink, a key material in flexible electronics, will move beyond e-readers into watches, signage and other growth markets.