CAMBRIDGE, UK – Stretchable electronics will become a $600 million market by 2027, says IDTechEx.

The research firm sees this trend as a step toward the endgame of new electronics: structural electronics. Structural electronics will transform traditional electronics from being components-in-a-box into invisible electronics that are part of the structure of the world around us, the firm says.

Electronic textile products with conductive inks and polymers already have been commercially launched, and a maturing industry will lead to increased volumes with more competitive pricing in the coming years, according to IDTechEx.

In-mold electronics (IME) products are in the final stages of qualification for high-volume whitegoods and automotive applications. IDTechEx expects notable commercial launches for IME products in 2017 after years of on-and-off starts. Here, stretchable conductive inks will be the first to reach the markets, but the industry is already expanding its toolkit to include IME-compatible transparent conductive film (carbon nanotubes, metal mesh, PEDOT, silver nanowires, etc.) and sensors/actuators.

Flexible PCB manufacturers are busy perfecting their process to create stretchable boards, following either the rigid-island-flexible-connector or ultra-thinning approaches, says the firm. In the long-term, these manufacturers have their sights set on creating an enabling platform, while in the short term they are working with partners on applications such as skin patches or fully conformable wearable devices.

IDTechEx anticipates the winners will emerge within the next three to five years.


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