Ten-year surge predicted for printed electronics

Analyst firm IDTechEx has claimed that the market for printed and organic electronics will rise from $1.92bn in 2009 to $57.16bn in 2019.

According to IDTechEx, most of the for organic electronic material market in 2009 – 71 per cent – is for electronics which are relatively mature. They include conductive inks for membrane keyboards and flexible connectors, sensors such as disposable blood glucose sensors and organic light emitting displays (OLEDs) which are on glass substrates but not printed as yet.

According to the company there have been many significant developments in the last 12 months. Work on thin film transistors is shifting increasingly from mostly organic based materials to a more even balance between organics and inorganics, due to the high performance that inorganics can achieve

East Asia has broadened the scope of its work in printed electronics, most notably in Japan followed by Korea. For example, the display giants in East Asia are researching the full gamut of printed electronics chemistries for transistors for display backplanes.

Photovoltaics such as CIGS, DSSC and OPV should account for a market of $0.41bn in 2009, but this is not the full picture. CdTe and aSi photovoltaics, which are not printed today, are now a substantial market in rigid form and both have been demonstrated to be printable or flexible.

The number of new companies getting involved is quickly increasing. At least 2250 organisations are working on the topic. This includes academic institutes as well as companies: roughly a 50-50 split.

Of the total market in 2009, 35 per cent of these electronics will be predominately printed. Initially photovoltaics, OLEDs on glass and e-paper displays should grow rapidly, followed by thin film transistor circuits, flexible OLEDs, sensors and batteries. By 2019, the market will be worth $57.2bn, with 76 per cent printed and 73 per cent on flexible substrates.

The market for e-paper displays will be $80m this year for the front-plane material, but the value of the products that use the technology is much higher: to date displays have been used in over $1bn worth of products. Some 14 e-readers are now available, according to IDTechEx.

Although most developers of thin film transistors have slipped target commercialisation dates, this year should see the products being sold. PolymerVision is expected to launch flexible displays based on organic transistors and Kovio plans to produce RFID tags using a printed inorganic semiconductor.

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