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Flexible Hybrid Electronics 2020-2030: Applications, Challenges, Innovations and Forecasts

Printed electronics, Flexible ICs, Printed Sensors, Conductive Inks, R2R manufacturing, Smart Packaging

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IDTechEx's report Flexible Hybrid Electronics 2020-2030 report provides a comprehensive overview of this emerging manufacturing methodology. Drawing on 20 interview-based company profiles, it includes an assessment of the enabling technologies and challenges, over 30 prototype case studies, technology adoption roadmaps, and detailed 10-year market forecasts segmented by technology and application. FHE is set to disrupt the existing electronics landscape, finally realizing the vision of ubiquitous electronics and facilitating novel applications. The trends, forecasts, challenges, and innovation opportunities outlined in this report provide a roadmap to this transition.
Structure of the Flexible Hybrid Electronics 2020-2030 report
Defining Flexible Hybrid Electronics
IDTechEx analyses and concludes in this report how the global demand for flexible hybrid electronic circuits will reach a value of over $3 billion in 2030 – more if the infrastructure, software and services are included. Our detailed and highly granular market forecasts take account of projected demand for a wide range of applications, along with the technological readiness level of the required components. Based on an impartial analysis across over 20 application sub-categories, ranging from skin patches to industrial monitoring and from automotive temperature sensors to printed RFID tags, IDTechEx expects that almost 5 bn FHE circuits will be produced in 2030.
We define FHE as a circuit that comprises a flexible substrate, printed functionality and an externally manufactured integrated circuit (IC). Manufacturing such circuits requires many current and developing emerging technologies which are essential to FHE circuits. These include:
  • Low cost thermally stabilised PET substrates that are dimensionally stable.
  • Component attachment materials compatible with flexible thermally fragile substrates, such as low temperature solder and field aligned anisotropic conductive adhesives.
  • Flexible integrated circuits, based on both thinned Si and metal oxides.
  • Conductive inks, based on both silver and copper.
  • Thin film batteries, especially if printable.
  • Printed sensors of all types.
  • Manufacturing methods for mounting components on flexible substrates.
Each of these technologies is reviewed in detail, based on our interviews and visits to many of the suppliers, and the merits of different approaches compared. Furthermore, we profile multiple government research centres and a range of collaborative projects from around the world that support the adoption of flexible hybrid electronics, demonstrating the major players and technological themes.
Technology trends
Based on this analysis of the technology and our interviews with many players in the field, we identify many technological trends and innovation opportunities. In terms of substrates, R2R manufacturing of hybrid electronics is made difficult by PET's dimensional instability and low glass transition temperature. As such more complex FHE circuits will require higher performance substrates. Thermally fragile substrates mean that replacements for SAC solder are required. While conductive adhesives are currently used to attach RFID chips to PET, these are likely to be replaced to some extent with low temperature solder since it enables self-alignment.
An especially clear innovation opportunity is flexible ICs, which would enable the whole circuit to bend and hence be compatible with continuous R2R manufacturing. There are arguably two approaches: thinned Si chips for more complex applications, and natively flexible ICs based on metal oxides for simpler applications like RFID. At present flexible ICs are still a long way from widespread adoption, but the demand is sure to grow as flexible hybrid electronics becomes more established due to the demand for low cost circuits and hence continuous manufacturing methods. Rapid placement of these flexible ICs on flexible substrates, which is very difficult for current pick-and-place technology, is another substantial opportunity.
As a technology that spans so many different applications, there are many drivers for the adoption of FHE. The most significant are the rapidly developing 'Internet of Things' and 'Smart packaging' applications, which require low cost electronics to be integrated into many everyday items. Such circuits are basically RFID tags with greater functionality, and will require similar continuous manufacturing methods and low cost materials. Unlike conventional electronics, these requirements are well suited to FHE. Wearable technology, in which flexibility/stretchability are highly desirable, is another rapidly growing application space. Additional drivers are the desire for differentiation in consumer products by adding flexibility through removing the form factor constraint of PCBs, and for electronic circuits in vehicles (especially planes and electric vehicles) to be lighter.
This report from IDTechEx provides a comprehensive overview of the flexible hybrid electronics market, including the technological challenges and the opportunities they create, market forecasts and over 20 interview-based company profiles.
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Table of Contents
1.1.What is flexible hybrid electronics (FHE)?
1.2.What advantages does FHE promise?
1.3.Enabling technologies for FHE
1.4.Transition from PI to cheaper substrates
1.5.Low temperature component attachment
1.6.Development of flexible ICs
1.7.Conductive inks: Silver to copper
1.8.Assembling FHE circuits
1.9.Government backed research centres
1.10.Main addressable markets for FHE
1.11.SWOT Analysis for FHE
1.12.Predicted manufacturing trends
1.13.Total FHE circuits forecast
1.14.Total FHE circuits forecast (volume)
2.1.The existing printed/flexible electronics market
2.1.1.Printed/flexible/organic electronics market size
2.1.2.Description and analysis of the main technology components of printed, flexible and organic electronics
2.1.3.Market potential and profitability
2.1.4.Route to market strategies: Pros and Cons
2.1.5.Printed/flexible electronics value chain is unbalanced
2.1.6.Many manufacturers now provide complete solutions
2.1.7.Many printed electronic technologies are an enabler but not an obvious product
2.2.Conventional electronics: Rigid and flexible PCBs
2.2.1.Types of printed circuit boards (PCBs)
2.2.2.Comparing PCB, FPCB and FHE
2.2.3.Multilayer PCBs - a challenge for FHE
2.3.Summary: Introduction
3.1.Low temperature polymer substrates
3.1.1.Cost and maximum temperature are correlated
3.1.2.Substrates for flexible electronics
3.1.3.Qualitative comparison of plastic substrates properties
3.1.4.Manipulating polyester film microstructure for improved properties.
3.1.5.Substrate stiffness
3.1.6.Dimensional stability: Importance and effect of environment
3.1.7.External debris and protection/cleaning strategies
3.2.Stretchable substrates
3.2.1.Requirements for stretchable electronics
3.2.2.Thermosetting resin as a flexible substrate.
3.2.3.Stress strain curves of flexible substrates
3.2.4.Nikkan Industries: An alternative stretchable substrate
3.3.Paper substrates
3.3.1.Paper substrates: Advantages and disadvantages
3.3.2.Paper substrates can have comparable roughness
3.3.3.Thermal properties of paper substrates
3.3.4.Paper substrate case studies
3.3.5.Sustainable RFID tags with antennae printed on paper.
3.4.Summary: Flexible substrates for FHE
3.4.1.Roadmap for flexible substrate adoption
4.1.Low temperature solder
4.1.1.Low temperature solder enables thermally fragile substrates
4.1.2.Substrate compatibility with existing infrastructure
4.1.3.Solder facilitates rapid component assembly via self alignment
4.1.4.Low temperature solder alloys
4.1.5.Low temperature soldering with core-shell nanoparticles
4.1.6.Supercooled liquid solder
4.2.Photonic soldering
4.2.1.Photonic soldering: A step up from sintering
4.2.2.Photonic soldering: Substrate dependence.
4.3.Electrically conductive adhesives
4.3.1.Electrically conductive adhesives: Two different approaches
4.3.2.Example of conductive adhesives on flexible substrates
4.3.3.Magnetically aligned ACA
4.3.4.Electrically aligned ACA
4.3.5.Conductive paste bumping on flexible substrates
4.3.6.Ag pasted for die attachment.
4.4.Summary: Component attachment materials
4.4.1.Component attachment materials for FHE roadmap
4.4.2.Component attachment materials for FHE roadmap
5.1.Printed thin film transistors
5.1.1.Printed TFTs aimed to enable simpler processing
5.1.2.Technical challenges in printing thin film transistors
5.1.3.Printed TFT architecture
5.1.4.Organic semiconductors for TFTs
5.1.5.Organic transistor materials
5.1.6.OTFT mobility overestimation
5.1.7.Merck's Organic TFT
5.1.8.Printed logic for RFID
5.1.9.Commercial difficulties with printed transistors
5.1.10.Fully printed ICs for RFID using CNTs.
5.2.Metal oxide ICs
5.2.1.MoOx semiconductors: Advantages and disadvantages
5.2.2.Metal oxide semiconductor production methods
5.2.3.Evonik's solution processible metal oxide
5.2.4.IGZO TFTs room temperature with deep UV annealing
5.2.5.Flexible metal oxide ICs
5.2.6.Additional benefits of flexible metal oxide ICs
5.3.Thinning silicon ICs
5.3.1.OFETs offer insufficient processing capability
5.3.2.Thinning silicon wafers for flexibility.
5.3.3.Silicon on polymer technology
5.3.4.Thin Si processing steps
5.3.5.Flexible IC capabilities and comparison.
5.3.6.Flexible ICs for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
5.4.Summary: Flexible logic
5.4.1.Latest progress with flexible/printed transistor RFID
5.4.2.Semiconductor Choices Compared
5.4.3.Lessons from the silicon chip: Need for modularity
5.4.4.Comparing flexible integrated circuit technologies
5.4.5.Roadmap for flexible ICs
6.1.Silver conductive inks
6.1.1.Silver nanoparticles outperform flakes
6.1.2.Higher nanoparticle ink prices offset by conductivity
6.1.3.Characteristics of Ag nano inks
6.1.4.Curing profiles of traditional pastes
6.1.5.Enhancing nanoparticle ink flexibility
6.1.6.Particle free conductive inks and pastes
6.1.7.Particle free ink examples
6.2.Copper conductive ink
6.2.1.Conductive inks: Silver vs copper
6.2.2.Methods of preventing copper oxidisation
6.2.3.Superheated steam approach
6.2.4.Reactive agent metallization
6.2.5.Comparing copper inks
6.2.8.Air cured copper paste
6.2.9.Air curable copper pastes
6.2.10.Pricing strategy and performance of copper inks and pastes
6.2.11.Copper inks with in-situ oxidation prevention
6.2.12.Copper inks with in-situ oxidation prevention
6.2.13.Reducing cuprous oxide by sintering
6.2.14.Silver-coated copper
6.3.Summary: Conductive inks
6.3.1.Trends for conductive inks in FHE applications
7.1.Flexible Batteries
7.1.1.Introduction to flexible batteries
7.1.2.Printed batteries in skin patches
7.1.3.Applications of printed batteries
7.1.4.Using a thin film battery as an FHE substrate
7.1.5.FHE as a power conditioning circuit.
7.1.6.Directly printed batteries
7.2.Flexible Photovoltaics
7.2.1.Photovoltaic efficiency over time
7.2.2.Organic photovoltaics (OPV)
7.2.3.Hybrid perovskite photovoltaics
7.3.Other flexible power sources.
7.3.1.Energy harvesting from EM spectrum
7.3.3.Thermoelectrics as a power source for wearables
7.4.Summary: Thin film power sources.
7.4.1.Power sources for FHE roadmap
8.1.Capacitive sensors
8.1.1.Printed capacitive sensors
8.1.2.Conductive materials for capacitive sensors
8.2.Other printed sensors
8.2.1.Printable photodetectors
8.2.2.Printable temperature sensors
8.2.3.Gas sensors ('electronic nose')
8.2.4.Electrochemical sensors
8.2.5.'Sensor-less' sensing of temperature and movement
8.3.Summary: Thin film sensors
9.1.Pick-and-place for FHE
9.1.1.Combining printed and placed functionality
9.1.2.Pick-and-place challenges
9.1.3.Pick-and-place flowchart
9.1.4.Direct die attach - an alternative to pick-and-place
9.1.5.Self-assembly: An alternative pick-and-place strategy
9.1.6.Multicomponent R2R line
9.2.Mounting chips on flexible substrates
9.2.1.Flip-chip approach overview
9.2.2.Solder free compliant flexible interconnects
9.2.3.Attachment with thermo-sonic bonding
9.3.FHE design tools and standards
9.3.1.Electronic design automation (EDA) for FHE
9.3.2.Standards for FHE
9.4.Summary: Assembling FHE
10.1.FHE manufacturing centres
10.1.1.NextFlex (USA)
10.1.2.Holst Centre (Netherlands)
10.1.3.IMEC (Belgium)
10.1.4.VTT (Finland)
10.1.5.CPI (UK)
10.1.6.Liten CEA-Tech (France)
10.1.7.Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials
10.2.Government funded FHE projects
10.2.1.Examples of UK and EU collaborative projects
10.2.2.SCOPE: Supply chain opportunity for printable electronics
10.2.3.NextFlex project call 4.0
10.2.4.Semi-FlexTech projects 2020
10.2.5.HiFES Program (University of Singapore)
10.3.Summary: Government research centres and projects
11.1.Smart packaging and functional RFID
11.1.1.Two approaches to smart packaging
11.1.2.Market need for smart packaging
11.1.3.Smart packaging: Current status
11.1.4.The Internet of Things
11.1.5.Smart packaging and low performance IC demand
11.1.6.RFID is a major application for FHE
11.1.7.RFID sensors
11.1.8.Anatomy of passive HF and UHF tags
11.1.9.Passive UHF RFID Sensors with Printed Electronics
11.1.10.Large flexible ICs reduce attach cost?
11.1.11.Wine temperature sensing label
11.1.12.Printed electronics enabling multi component integration some use NFC as wireless power
11.1.13.Logic based systems
11.1.14.Smart tags with a flexible silicon IC
11.2.Wearable/healthcare monitoring
11.2.1.Electronic skin patches
11.2.2.Product areas with body-worn electrodes
11.2.3.Skin patches with printed attributes
11.2.4.Printed electronics in cardiac skin patches
11.2.5.Cardiac skin patch types: Flexible patch with integrated electrodes
11.2.6.Skin patches for inpatient monitoring
11.2.7.General patient monitoring: a growing focus
11.2.8.Sweat sensing: sweat rate and biomarkers
11.2.9.Chemical sensing in sweat
11.2.12.DevInnova / Scaleo Medical
11.2.13.US Military head trauma patch / PARC
11.2.14.Wound monitoring and treatment
11.2.15.Nissha GSI Technologies
11.2.16.Nissha GSI Technologies
11.2.17.Opportunities for printed electronics in skin patches
11.2.18.Opportunity for printed electronics by type of skin patch
11.2.19.Electrode types
11.2.20.Printed functionality in skin patches
11.2.21.Printed functionality in skin patches.
11.2.22.PARC / UCSD
11.2.23.Blue Spark
11.2.24.DevInnova / Scaleo Medical
11.2.25.Nissha GSI Technologies
11.2.26.Novii: Wireless fetal heart rate monitoring
11.2.27.GE/ Kemsense: BioSensors on conventional RFID labels
11.2.28.VTT Activity Badge Demonstrator
11.2.29.Activity Badge Demo manufacturing process flow
11.2.30.Wearable ECG sensor from VTT
11.2.31.Quad Industries - developing healthcare
11.3.Consumer electronics
11.3.1.Flexible Arduino: Making existing circuits flexible
11.3.2.PlasticArm: An electronic nose with FHE
11.3.3.PlasticArm: Utilizing bespoke flexible processesors
11.3.4.Augmented book: Technological overview
11.3.5.Thin finger print sensors using organic photodetectors
11.3.6.LG Sensing Smart Card: Commercial product with a printed antenna to test water salinity. Launched in 2018 in Korea
11.3.7.Human machine interfaces (HMI)
11.3.8.Printed LED lighting
11.3.9.Nth Degree - Printed LEDs
11.4.Automotive & Aeronautical
11.5.Industrial and environmental monitoring
11.5.1.FHE for industrial and environmental monitoring: Application sub-categories
11.5.2.FHE and 'Industry 4.0' (smart manufacturing)
11.5.3.FHE wireless sensors in smart factories
11.5.4.Condition monitoring multimodal sensor array
11.6.Summary: Applications and case studies
12.1.Readiness of FHE for different applications
12.2.Technological readiness levels of technologies underpinning FHE
12.3.FHE Roadmap
12.4.Non-technological barriers to FHE adoption
12.5.FHE market forecasting approach.
12.6.Total FHE circuits forecast
12.7.Total FHE circuits forecast (volume)
12.8.FHE circuits for smart packaging and functional RFID (volume)
12.9.FHE circuits for industrial/environmental monitoring forecast
12.10.FHE circuits for industrial/environmental monitoring (volume)
12.11.FHE circuits for industrial/environmental monitoring (revenue)
12.12.FHE circuits for wearable/healthcare monitoring
12.13.FHE circuits for wearable/healthcare monitoring (volume)
12.14.FHE circuits for wearable/healthcare monitoring (revenue)
12.15.FHE circuits for consumer goods
12.16.FHE circuits for consumer goods (volume)
12.17.FHE circuits for consumer goods (revenue)
12.18.FHE circuits for automotive/aeronautical applications
12.19.FHE circuits for automotive/aeronautical applications (volume)
12.20.Total FHE circuits forecast - including all printed RFID.
12.21.Total FHE circuits forecast - including all printed RFID (volume)
12.22.Total FHE circuits forecast - including printed RFID (revenue)
13.1.Company profiles list (sorted by category)

Report Statistics

Slides 407
Forecasts to 2030

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