Printed and flexible sensors: there will be many winners

Printed and flexible sensors: there will be many winners

Dr Guillaume Chansin
Printed and flexible sensors: there will be many winners
IDTechEx forecasts that the market for printed and flexible sensors will increase by more than $1 billion by 2020. This is one of the many findings discussed in the latest report Printed and Flexible Sensors 2014-2024: Technologies, Players, Forecasts.
 
Printed electronics is a disruptive technology that enables new devices and new form factors. Initially, the prospect of replacing costly manufacturing techniques with additive processes such as inkjet printing led to ambitious goals: new electronic devices would be inexpensive, they would be fully flexible, and they would completely replace conventional electronics.
 
Fast forward to the present day and the results are mixed. However, sensors generally have a much simpler structure than devices such as displays or logic circuits. The technology barrier against commercialisation is therefore less steep compared to many other printed electronics applications. IDTechEx has been following the market for printed, organic and flexible electronics for over a decade, and expects many opportunities in sensing applications.

Many addressable markets

Printed and flexible sensors already represent a value of $6.3 billion in 2013. The biggest market is currently biosensors, where disposable glucose test strips are used to improve the lives of diabetics. However, there are many other types of sensors, thus many addressable markets.
 
A new generation of printed sensors is emerging, taking advantage of the latest materials such as organic semiconductors, nanoparticles or quantum dots. By 2024, these emerging applications will take a significant share of the multi-billion dollar printed sensor market.
 
Fig 1. Relative market size for printed and flexible sensors in 2024
 
 
Source: IDTechEx report "Printed and Flexible Sensors 2014-2024: Technologies, Players, Forecasts"
 
IDTechEx expects new hybrid CMOS image sensors to quickly become the second largest market, with new printable photoelectric materials replacing silicon as the light sensing layer in many applications where high dynamic range, high sensitivity and infrared detection are important features (e.g.: consumer electronics, security cameras, etc...).
 
Printing is nothing new in the sensor industry and in fact some types of sensors have always been printed. For example, piezoresistive sensing is already an established market. Growth in piezoresistive sensors will however get additional momentum, explained by a combination of favourable trends. The next five years will see automotive applications take a larger share, ultimately outgrowing healthcare. In this scenario, IDTechEx expects the piezoresistive sensor market to triple by 2018.
 
IDTechEx provides 10-year market forecasts for the following sensor technologies:

Identifying opportunities

This new study includes much more than just market forecasts. Save months of research by learning who the key players are in printed and flexible sensors. A total of 68 companies have been assessed and categorised to help you identify potential partners and suppliers. The report also includes 20 detailed company profiles based on interviews by IDTechEx's analysts.
 
The report offers great value for anyone looking for the full picture (technologies, players, market forecasts). For each type of device a technology review explains the latest innovations from companies and research institutes developing printed and flexible sensors. Even if not part of printed electronics, sensors which are printed and sintered at high temperature are also described in the report, for completeness.