Printed Electronics 2011: Chips, inks, tissue boxes, and apps in between

December 7, 2011 – The IDTechEx combined Printed Electronics USA 2011 and Photovoltaics USA 2011 event opened November 30 in the Santa Clara, CA convention center with 1200-1250 registered and walk-in attendees, comparable to 2010 attendance.

A morning of keynote addresses filled the large auditorium to about 90% capacity before the crowd split up for the parallel tracks. The speakers in this opening track personified the notion of customer pull, presenting a variety of new applications that have been or are being brought to market, as well as a wish list of things they wish they had. Technical content was hard to find; this market is all about the marketing. Technology is tolerated to the extent that it is indispensable.

Kenneth McGuire, principal scientist at Proctor & Gamble, opened the conference with a presentation on packaging applications for consumer products. Watch your store shelves for a Puffs tissue box with a Christmas EL lighting display, powered by two AA batteries. Since most applications require the integration of logic, memory, display, and power with the overriding constraint of low cost, there is still a lot of development needed before every package on the store shelf is literally shouting for your attention. Expect broad market introduction to be slow.

Michael Londo, director of open innovation at MWV Packaging, discussed the search for matches between available technology and market needs. Collaboration with the printed electronics program at Western Michigan University and with Vorbeck Materials has played a critical role in bringing some new consumer product security systems to market.

Warren Kronberger, R&D director for The Marketing Store, showed several commercial packaging campaigns from other parts of the world that make US marketing look just a tad primitive. Integration of PV power supplies in locations where plug-in power is not readily available is relieving some pressure on developing inexpensive battery technology.

Andrew Ferber & John Gentile, co-chairmen of T-Ink, spoke of the company’s evolution in printed electronics from toys to aerospace over the past decade. Their strategy of using low-tech products to seed discussions for products now being implemented in automobile overhead consoles and smart wear has provided them with steady growth in both market penetration and product complexity. Their touch panel design places the capacitive layers much closer to the panel surface, resulting in a higher s/n and 10


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