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Printed electronics market ramps up

Posted: 12 Mar 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:printed electronics  non-rigid substrate  market research 

According to IDTechEx, the market for printed and potentially printed electronics in 2012 will be Rs.46,534.65 crore ($9.4 billion) including devices not yet printed today but which are moving towards being printed. Of this market, 30 per cent of the devices studied are made predominately by printing, and 6 per cent are on a non-rigid substrate, finds IDTechEx.

There are four main markets that make up 98 per cent of this figure, which are:

OLED displays, driven by the need to differentiate smart phones. Samsung has led much of the investment, production and use of OLED displays in its smart phones, seeing significant sales over the past 12 months. These OLED displays are not printed and are not flexible in the main. Continued demand in 2012, along with OLED displays of similar sizes being adopted by others, will see a Rs.19,801.98 crore ($4 billion) spend on OLED displays (display module value) in 2012.

In 2012 Rs.1,435.64 crore ($290 million) will be spent on e-paper material (excluding the value of the TFT backplane). In e-readers, this technology has created a market of several billion dollars if we include the value of the e-readers and content. However, the Holy Grail is colour, with electrophoretic versions and other technologies (such as electrowetting) being pursued.

Conductive inks, used predominately for photovoltaic (PV) bus bars and other applications such as antennas, flexible connectors, smart packaging etc., see a Rs.11,386.14 crore ($2.3 billion) spend on the ink alone. This excludes spend on conductive ink for shielding/static discharge applications and membrane circuits, where the sectors are mature. Almost all of this is flake-based ink.

In addition, almost Rs.12,871.29 crore ($2.6 billion) will be spent on CIGs based photovoltaics in 2012—but almost all of this is non-printed and on glass. However we include this as part of the big picture because there is significant effort pursuing printing to manufacture CIGs, says IDTechEx.

The full breakdown is shown in the figure below:

Market size

Printed and Potentially Printed Electronics Market Size by Component Type in 2012. Source: Printed, Organic & Flexible Electronics Forecasts, Players & Opportunities 2012-2022—

IDTechEx believe the OLED display market will rise to Rs.1.49 lakh crore ($30 billion) in 2022, and of that 20 per cent will be predominately printed and 17 per cent on a non-rigid substrate. Indeed, significant research and investment to printed OLEDs is happening now, and with Samsung's decision to spin out its LCD business and focus on OLED, IDTechEx expect the use of OLEDs to accelerate compared to the paltry growth until a few years ago.

IDTechEx expect OLED lighting to become a Rs.4,950.50 crore ($1 billion) market by 2019. OLED lighting panels need to scale up in size to reduce cost and face competition from LED lighting which is now making inroads into most forms of lighting, in addition to experiencing new technical developments such as printed LED lighting.

Sales of printed batteries, logic and memory remain very small but a few aspects are coming together to address that. This includes the creation of useful "building blocks" in the form of memory addressed by printed transistors, and now combining that with sensors which have applicability to a wide range of markets, and moves away from those trying to sell a transistor to those having a useful product to buy.

While metal flake ink is predominately used today for screen printing PV bus bars, there is growing interest to use inkjet printable ink in order to reduce the risk of breaking the ever thinning silicon PV cell by having a non-contact deposition method. Particle free metallic ink, graphene based inks and copper are now in development or commercial use in a range of applications including tamper and theft monitoring of retail packages.

Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) is still more than 95 per cent of the Rs.17,326.73 crore ($3.5 billion) transparent conductive film market. Indium is subject to supply restriction and its price has varied by a magnitude in the last ten years. It is required primarily for photovoltaics, displays and touch screen applications—enormous markets. Alternatives to ITO include transparent organic materials, finely printed conductive grid meshes and other ways of patterning metal 'strands'. Some even use copper rather than silver to reduce cost. Others are progressing carbon nanotubes and graphene as a viable alternative and companies with different technologies are beginning to make some inroads, particularly in touch screen panel applications.

By 2022, of all the components assessed, IDTechEx find that the market opportunity will be Rs.3.12 lakh crore ($63 billion). However, of that, 45 per cent of the components will be predominately printed and 33 per cent on a non-rigid substrate, given the time and investment needed to move to printing manufacturing processes or flexible substrates.

For more statistics and forecasts, click here.

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