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FLEXO Magazine : January 2011
INDUSTRY INDICATORS Printed Electronics Predictions for 2011 By Raghu Das In this article, we examine what to expect for 2011. To do that, we must understand the spectacular successes of the recent past as well as the failures. This has often been an industry with poor business planning and marketing. For ex- ample, in e-readers, Plastic Logic belatedly realized it could not meet Apple and Amazon head on and it said it would create a professional sector. But such a niche may never exist. Ultimately, it failed to launch a product anyway. Those developing printed organic and inorganic flexible solar cells, most of which had life of no more than five years, obsessed about replacing power sta- tions by meeting “grid parity ” efficiency when the potential lay in consumer goods, military, healthcare and media. LESSONS FROM FAILURE Frequently, participants tried to run before they could walk, or at least chose objectives that were too ambitious for the level of investment available. For example, Microemissive Dis- plays, OLED-T and many other organic light emitting display companies are no more. Those making printed antennas and keyboards prospered. Some have simply failed to meet the price/performance points necessary for market entry. For example, no one has taken a meaningful order for the long-promised printed organic transistors, despite transistors being the engine of most electronics. That has had a severe knock on effect. For example, the printed organic memory of Thin Film Electronics AB and many printed sensors cannot fulfil its primary market potential without them. LESSONS FROM SUCCESS There are important lessons from the recent successes too. The Amazon Kindle e-reader is the antidote to phones and computers we cannot read in sunshine. It is partly printed with an excellent route to further weight and cost reduction using more printing. It replaces books. The Apple iPad is not killing the Kindle because it is not simply an e-reader and it is in color. You need a spectacularly better product in the eyes of potential users to compete effectively with either of these pow- erful global brands with their unsurpassed routes to market. An example would be a color e-reader tightly rolled into your mobile phone, but no such product is in prospect for 2011. REPLACING SILICON CHIPS Certain small orders for printed and partly printed electron- ics in 2010 were of deep significance. For example, the Kovio order for disposable electronic train tickets in Los Angeles saw formidable printed nano-silicon electronics in the form of more than 1,000 transistors printed by inkjet and rotary screen The ultimately failed Plastic Logic e-reader. Understanding it’s demise is key to understanding the future of printed electronics. 20 FLEXO JANUARY 2011 www.flexography.org • While many examples refer to screen and inkjet print- ing, flexo continues to show promise in this market. • Apple’s iPad is not killing Amazon’s Kindle because they are, simply put, not the same product. • Many companies will launch simple devices based on printed diodes and conductive patterns etc. • New electric cars will incorporate largely printed ceil- ing and dashboard control clusters. • Expect yet more animated and interactive paper magazines.
Sustainable Winter 2011