IDTechEx Takes a Look at Where Printed Sensors Are Headed

IDTechEx Takes a Look at Where Printed Sensors Are Headed
Sensors can be known as one of the main interfaces between the physical and digital domains. IDTechEx's report, "Printed and Flexible Sensors 2024-2034: Technologies, Players, Markets", discusses the crossover of printed and flexible sensors, as well as printed sensors used in applications within the automotive industry and for multifunctional purposes in consumer electronics.
How printed sensors work
Inkjet, flexographic, and screen printing are all techniques used to achieve sensors that are both printed and flexible. Silicone, polyimide, polyurethane, and many other alternatives are used as substrates, while solely printed sensors exist on non-flexible surfaces, such as glass. IDTechEx's report differentiates these methods and materials further.
These types of sensors allow touch functionality to be integrated into surfaces that might not previously have incorporated sensing technology. Sensors for wearables in the healthcare and sport industries, photodetectors, temperature, and gas sensors (more information found in IDTechEx's reports "Wearable Technology Forecasts 2023-2033" and "Environmental Gas Sensor Market 2024-2034: Technology, Trends, Forecasts, Players") are all examples of printed and flexible sensors, with IDTechEx reporting that the annual revenue for printed sensors as a whole stands at US$421 million as of 2024.
The automotive industry
Reduced bulk and seamless integration are on the rise within the automotive industry and are where printed sensors can flourish, with seat occupancy monitoring using piezoresistive sensors to detect passengers. Interior automotive surfaces can also use printed sensors for touch-sensitive inputs for buttons, such as the heated seat function.
Growth opportunities come into play in improving the range of electric vehicles and protecting the health of the batteries. Printed temperature and pressure sensors can surround battery cells and communicate when they overheat or begin to swell, acting as battery health monitoring, and when combined with heating elements, can create an active thermal management solution. Touch-sensitive door handles, printed light components, and biometric authentication are also features that can be developed with printed sensors to enhance the driver's experience. IDTechEx reports, "Thermal Management for Electric Vehicles 2025-2035: Materials, Markets, and Technologies" and "Future Automotive Technologies 2024-2034: Applications, Megatrends, Forecasts" can provide further details.
What sets printed sensors apart?
Competition for printed sensors is found in commoditized rigid sensors, which are very low-cost, small, and reliable and have been ubiquitously employed throughout most major technology sectors for years. Their strong performance and good power consumption give them great possession of the sensor market, with printed and flexible sensor technologies yet to achieve comparable commercial success.
New opportunities are arising for printed sensors within saturated markets due to their nuanced abilities to be printed onto large areas while being flexible and easily integrated into devices. With increased sensing area of printed and flexible sensors, whole areas can be mapped, including laptop trackpads with force sensitivity, fingerprint authentication, and EV battery monitoring. Multifunctional sensing solutions, such as combined pressure and temperature sensing, are a unique way for printed and flexible sensors to break into the market.
IDTechEx expects the printed and flexible sensor market to reach US$960 million by 2034, with a compound annual growth rate of 8.6%. Being connected to infrastructure systems or partnering with suppliers and distributors will help printed sensors take off, alongside their ability to be available at scale, robust, and have long product lifetimes. Some emerging printed sensor markets, including motion tracking, robotics, and battery health monitoring, are explored in IDTechEx's report, "Printed and Flexible Sensors 2024-2034: Technologies, Players, Markets".
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