The printed electronics industry continues to witness large-scale changes and developments. The emerging industry looks to take advantage of exciting research and development initiatives that explore new application opportunities once considered incompatible with traditional silicon technology.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (ti.frost.com), Printed Electronics-Technologies and Applications, finds that volume penetration of printed electronics will likely occur between 2007 and 2010 and will explode to a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars by 2015. High-volume sales of printed electronics will most likely take place in the retail and supply chain management industries.
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"Market opportunities for printed electronics exist in short-term, low functionality, low-cost applications as well as technically complex, long-range evolving applications," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Rashmi Sundararajan. "Printed electronics are anticipated to have a huge impact on the semiconductor industry, since it can significantly reduce its cycle times and cost structures thereby allowing new devices to have a much shorter time-to-market."
Recently, smaller companies and start-ups have demonstrated more activity in the market in terms of innovation and funding compared to larger companies. Small– and mid- sized companies have the opportunity to take advantage of the low set up cost of a printed electronics factory relative to a conventional metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) wafer-based fabrication facility.
Medium-tier and start-up companies have undertaken major initiatives to develop innovative applications for printed electronics by resorting to high-volume low-cost manufacturing. Additionally, most market participants have conducted trials for the use of organic inks for semiconductive structures, while others continue to research metallic nanoparticle inks for conductive structures such as electrodes and transistors.
"Large area low-cost print manufacturing will likely revolutionize the market for inorganic silicon-based electronics," notes Sundararajan. "This is because silicon electronics rely on high-volume production to achieve economies of scale, whereas printing techniques utilized in electronics manufacturing do not require high volumes to drive down costs."
Furthermore, simplified fabrication processes can reduce costs and manufacture technically complex electronic products such as flexible displays and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags at extremely low price points.
However, while standard printing presses can achieve high volumes, these techniques have limited resolution with respect to silicon microelectronics fabrication. Therefore, silicon technology will continue to dominate applications that require fast switching and complex processing, whereas the lower cost/area ratio of printed electronics will make them the preferred choice for less sophisticated applications.
With the rapid development of organic conductive/semiconductive/di-electric chemistries, products, and processes printed electronics manufacturers must focus more on developing printable logic and complimentary circuits for CMOS wafer-based systems, which were originally intended to be replaced.
"Continuous improvements in product, process, and materials design are essential for success in this industry," says Sundararajan. "These improvements require unified efforts from all participants in the printed electronics value chain."
Printed Electronics-Technologies and Applications is part of the Technical Insights Growth Partnership Service, and provides a macroscopic overview of the market dynamics in the printed electronics industry for a ten-year period starting from 2004. The research service offers a complete analysis of the key accelerating factors, competitive challenges, and market/technology trends that impact technology adoption in this industry. Interviews with the press are available.
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