After many years of development, flexible printed electronics are entering a new phase of commercial growth, according to new research from IDTechEx Research.
In 2018, the printed, flexible and organic electronics market was worth $31.6 billion, the majority of which was organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays. This year, foldable and printed OLEDs are gearing up for commercial growth. For example, Royole Corp. recently showcased a prototype foldable smartphone at this year’s CES tradeshow.
Beyond the consumer space, business opportunities abound for flexible, printed electronics such as:
- Electronic skin patches for monitoring glucose or heart rate
- OLED eye mask for diabetic retinopathy
- New interfaces and lighting for automobile interiors
- Heat management for power electronics used in electric vehicles
- Spray-on or printable electromagnetic shielding materials for the adoption of 5G
- Growth in e-textiles, or smart fabrics, forecasted to grow to $2 billion by 2028
Smart packaging is also on the rise with printed, flexible electronics seeing use in high-volume production for barcode readers and inventory management.
Printed electronics have graduated from use in academic environments to real-world use cases emerging to take advantage of the form factor. With the electronics not close to maturity, it is likely the technology will find its way into additional markets in the near future.
Flex 2019, sponsored by SEMI, takes place Feb. 18-21 in Monterey, California.