BOSTON – Can electronics be additively manufactured and flexible without compromising on the capabilities of conventionally produced integrated circuits (ICs)? Often described as 'print what you can, place what you can't', flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) offers an enticing blend of capabilities, enabling rapid prototyping, flexibility/stretchability, and roll-to-roll manufacturing of circuits with conventional ICs. Furthermore, this manufacturing methodology is moving out of research labs and into commercial production, with new and existing contract manufacturers now offering FHE.
IDTechEx's report "Flexible Hybrid Electronics 2024-2034" evaluates the status and prospects of FHE circuits, which we forecast to reach a market size of around US$1.8 billion by 2034 - more if the associated infrastructure, software, and services are included. Drawing on years of following the printed electronics industry and 40 interview-based company profiles, the report outlines trends and innovations in the materials, components, and manufacturing methods required. It explores the application sectors where FHE is most likely to be adopted, drawing on both current activity and an evaluation of FHE's value proposition. Granular market forecasts break down the opportunities for FHE circuits across 5 application sectors (automotive, consumer goods, energy, healthcare/wellness, and infrastructure/buildings/industrial) into 39 specific opportunities, such as skin temperature sensors and printed RFID tags.
Manufacturing FHE circuits requires many current and developing emerging technologies that are essential to circuits. These include:
The IDTechEx report assesses the status and prospects of each technology in detail, with recent developments and technological gaps highlighted and the merits of different approaches compared. This analysis is based on interviews with many suppliers and annual attendance at multiple printed/flexible electronics conferences. Furthermore, we profile 6 government research centers and a range of collaborative projects from around the world that support the adoption of flexible hybrid electronics, demonstrating the major players and technological themes.
Assessing Application Opportunities
With so many potential addressable markets, establishing where FHE offers the most compelling value proposition relative to alternative electronics manufacturing approaches is essential. As a manufacturing methodology rather than a specific product, the benefits of using FHE are highly dependent on the application.
For prototyping and high mix low volume production, printing with digital methods such as inkjet rather than chemically etching the conductive traces enables straightforward adjustments to design parameters. This brings multiple benefits, including shortening the product development process by reducing the time between design iterations and facilitating product 'versioning' to meet specific customer requirements without substantially increasing production costs.
Alternatively, for very high-volume applications such as RFID tags, smart packaging, and even large-area lighting, the compatibility of FHE with high throughput roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing via rotary printing methods such as flexography and gravure offer the potential for reduced costs. Rapid production can be expedited by low-temperature and/or high-speed component attachment methods, with competing approaches analyzed in detail within the report.
Flexibility and stretchability, of course, also form part of FHE's value proposition. While conventionally manufactured flexible PCBs already meet some application requirements, such as for making electrical connections in confined spaces, the resilience of many printed conductive inks to repeated bending and tighter curvatures offers a clear differentiator. FHE is thus well suited for wearable applications such as electronic skin patches and applications where conformality is enabled by stretchability, such as integrated lighting.
IDTechEx has been researching developments in the printed and flexible electronics market for well over a decade. Since then, we have stayed close to technical and commercial developments, interviewing key players worldwide, annually attending conferences such as FLEX and LOPEC, delivering multiple consulting projects, and running classes/ workshops on the topic. "Flexible Hybrid Electronics 2024-2034" utilizes this experience and expertise to summarize IDTechEx's knowledge and insight across the compelling and rapidly emerging manufacturing methodology of FHE.
To find out more about this new IDTechEx report, including downloadable sample pages, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/FlexElec
TROY, MI – Altair (Nasdaq: ALTR), a global leader in computational science and artificial intelligence (AI) has named the winners of the 2023 Altair Enlighten Award. Presented in association with the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), the Altair Enlighten Award honors the greatest sustainability and lightweighting advancements that successfully reduce carbon footprint, mitigate water and energy consumption, and leverage material reuse and recycling efforts.
"The Altair Enlighten Award is a special award that showcases how the automotive industry's leading minds – from the biggest names to its newest startups – are applying advanced technologies and responsible AI to create a better, greener industry," said James R. Scapa, founder, and chief executive officer, Altair. "Lightweighting, optimization, and sustainability are more important than ever in the modern automotive industry. Altair is proud to honor the innovations that will drive the future of a sustainable industry."
"As always, we're honored to be presenting the Enlighten Award together with Altair, and we look forward to seeing what innovations this year's submissions bring as we work towards a more sustainable automotive ecosystem," said Alan Amici, president, and chief executive officer, Center for Automotive Research.
The complete list of all winning organizations, runners-up, and honorable mentions are below.
Future of Lightweighting
The Enlighten Award winners will be announced in an awards ceremony at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars on August 1, 2023, at 7:30 a.m. ET. For more information about the Enlighten Award, visit https://altair.com/enlighten-award
Partners for the 2023 Enlighten Award include Automotive Engineering SAE, Tech Briefs, Auto Bild Japan, Automobile Industrie, and the Korean Society of Automotive Engineers (KSAE).
TechSearch International’s latest analysis examines demand for packages used in AI. As the industry enters the AI era, successful hardware deployment requires a supply of silicon interposers, or alternatives such as redistribution layer (RDL) structures and advanced laminates, to support high density. With the desire to add more and more high bandwidth memory (HBM) stacks, the size of the interposers is growing, driving demand for larger build-up package substrates. TechSearch International analyzes industry readiness with silicon interposers (and alternatives), large body-size packages, and HBM.
Reliability issues for large body size packages are highlighted. Demand projections are provided for interposers and HBM. Supply and demand for build-up substrates is examined, given the need for large substrates. The report also examines the status of glass for substrates and provides an update on the technology. The report points out challenges to be addressed.
While wafer-to-wafer (W2W) hybrid bonding has been in production for image sensors for many years, and is seeing growing use in the production of NAND Flash, die-to-wafer (D2W) adoption is in the early stages. The report analyzes the adoption for memory on logic, logic on logic, and the future for HBM. Research activities and challenges are discussed.
RF package trends are highlighted with an in-depth examination in the mobile space. Alternatives to laminate substrates are discussed. The report examines OSAT financials, discussing prospects for the year.
The latest Advanced Packaging Update is a 110-page report with full references and an accompanying set of ~100 PowerPoint slides.
CARSON CITY, NV – Taiyo America has announced a new partnership with LiloTree. This partnership is part of the ongoing strategy to provide innovative technology to the PCB industry. LiloTree has developed an innovative nickel-free and Cyanide-free gold plating process that offers many advantages to the standard ENIG process.
The benefits of LiloTree’s technology are:
“With our strong solder mask presence in the marketplace, we will introduce the LiloTree technology to all the PCB manufactures in North America and Europe. LiloTree’s technology fits in line with Taiyo’s continued support to the industry in providing the most innovative products for the manufacturing of PCBs.” says Zach Maekawa, President at Taiyo America.
“LiloTree is extremely happy about this new partnership says Kunal Shah, President of LiloTree. “Taiyo’s has a long-standing relationship with all the PCB manufacturers in North America and Europe and we are confident that they will help us in introducing our technology to the PCB industry. We both share a common goal to bring new technology to the market.”
Taiyo America was established in 1990, in Carson City, NV as a manufacturing subsidiary of Taiyo Holdings Co., Ltd. (located in Japan). We have been exceeding the industry’s needs for solder mask products, legend inks, thermal management inks, and direct imaging products to consistently meet the ever-growing and changing demands for printed circuit boards. LiloTree is a global supplier of surface finishes to PCB and IC manufacturing.
It is an advanced materials technology company, providing next-generation technology solutions through chemistry and materials innovations. Based in Redmond, Washington, we manufacture Ni-less ENIG-Premium, ENIGPremium and other surface finishes, eco-friendly patented plating solutions offering optimum performance and better reliability at lower cost for electronic assemblies.
CAMBRIDGE, UK – How far is printed/flexible electronics along the road to widespread adoption? The emerging manufacturing methodology, which replaces etched copper laminate with printed conductive inks on flexible substrates, offers multiple benefits, including flexibility/stretchability, the potential for low-cost roll-to-roll production, digital manufacturing/rapid prototyping, and improved sustainability. However, while undoubtedly the established manufacturing method for a small range of applications, printed/flexible electronics currently comprise a very small proportion of the total electronics industry.
Arguably the biggest success story of printed/flexible electronics is OLED displays, which are now ubiquitous in smartphones and widely used in TVs. However, with a few exceptions, such as foldable smartphone displays, these are neither printed nor flexible - while the emissive organic semiconductors can be printed, they are typically evaporated since that process is far more reproducible.
If OLED displays and the few established applications such as automotive seat occupancy sensors and glucose test strips are excepted, the printed/flexible electronics industry broadly follows the classic hype curve often used to describe the adoption of emerging technologies. Although clearly a simplification that aggregates many individual technologies and applications with different timelines, the hype curve nonetheless provides a helpful framework for characterizing industry sentiment.
A Compelling Vision
The original vision for printed/flexible electronics involved printing all circuit elements, including passive components such as resistors and capacitors, along with more sophisticated components such as logic and memory. Visions of printed electronic circuitry and devices such as photovoltaic panels, displays, and lighting rolling off production lines like newsprint captured the imagination. As such, printed/flexible electronics received considerable government and private funding, with many academic research groups exploring printable semiconductors for logic and photovoltaics.
This was followed in the 2000s and early 2010s by private investment into roll-to-roll production of both organic photovoltaics and printed logic, marking the zenith of the hype curve. Unfortunately, meeting market requirements of efficiency, durability, and cost proved challenging for both printed solar and logic, resulting in some cases of bankruptcy or strategic pivots.
Refining Product Market Fit
This realization that producing printed logic/memory that could compete with silicon integrated circuits was extremely challenging, along with the falling cost of conventional silicon photovoltaic panels, required adjustments from the nascent printed/flexible electronics industry. Rather than insist on printing the entire circuits, flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) gained traction as a compromise that combines conventional mounted components with printed functionality. Organic photovoltaics transitioned from aiming to compete on price to instead emphasizing other differentiators such as efficient indoor energy harvesting, lightweight for building integration, and easily tuneable designs.
Reaching the 'Slope of Enlightenment'
Recent years have seen much clearer targeting of printed/flexible electronics to specific applications where the technology offers significant enough benefits over the incumbent technology to merit adoption. Rather than 'here's a new technology with many widely relevant benefits', printed/flexible electronics companies instead offer specific solutions that happen to utilize printed/flexible electronics, often in conjunction with conventional electronics where appropriate.
As such, while the hype curve clearly hides many subtleties, IDTechEx regard the industry as a whole as on the 'slope of enlightenment'. A great example of this is successful commercialization after a strategic pivot, for example, a pivot from printed logic for RFID to producing transparent conductive foils for backlit touch interfaces that are now installed in mass-produced cars. Additional evidence for reaching this stage, where profitable use cases start to be found after the initial hype has faded, include the lack of new startups, with most early-stage players being 5-10 years old and have now identified the optimal product market fit. Furthermore, exhibited prototypes are now often produced in collaboration with a customer and generally show incremental improvements targeted at a specific application rather than novel capabilities. As such, expect to see an increasing commercial adoption of printed/flexible electronics across multiple sectors over the next few years, with applications ranging from wearable heaters to building leak sensors and from automotive touch interfaces to indoor photovoltaics.
IDTechEx has been researching developments in the printed and flexible electronics market for well over a decade. Since then, we have stayed close to technical and commercial developments, interviewing key players worldwide, annually attending conferences such as FLEX and LOPEC, delivering multiple consulting projects, and running classes/ workshops on the topic. "Flexible & Printed Electronics 2023-2033: Forecasts, Technologies, Markets" utilizes this experience and expertise to summarize IDTechEx's knowledge and insight across the entire field, with granular forecasts across 50 distinct applications and 40 detailed company profiles.
To find out more about this report, including downloadable sample pages, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/pe
Beaverton, OR – Coincident with our move to new offices in central Beaverton, Polar appoints Lupita Maurer as President of Polar Instruments, Inc.
"I am excited and honored to take up the opportunity of heading up Polar Inc" explains Maurer. "Ken Taylor, our outgoing president has set a high level of expectation for the organization. Polar’s increasing market in the design space, alongside our existing customer base in the PCB fabrication industry, combined with the effects of reshoring, are shaping exciting new opportunities for our US operation."
Maurer’s has been a key player in Polar’s sales operation till this point, prior to joining she held software related positions at Tektronix, giving her broad experience in a T&M background.
Taylor will retain a non-executive position on the board of the company, allowing us to tap into his years of wisdom in the business. The tight knit team at Polar Inc provide sales service and support for the expanding customer base of Signal integrity modeling, documentation and measurement tools.
For further information please contact your local Polar office, contact details may be found on our website polarinstruments.com, further product information and technical tips are on the Polar YouTube channel www.youtube.com/@polarinc.