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Printed and Flexible Sensors 2015-2025: Technologies, Players, Forecasts

Established and emerging markets - the complete picture on all applications: biosensors, temperature, humidity, gas, capacitive, piezoresistive, piezoelectric, photodetectors

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Sensors are playing an increasingly important role in printed electronics. While the biggest market is currently glucose sensors (for the treatment of diabetes), it is also highly commoditized. However, a new generation of printed sensors is now emerging from R&D and the range of applications is vast. There are many types of sensors and therefore many addressable markets. IDTechEx forecasts the market for fully printed sensors will be over $8 billion by 2025.
Printing is not a new technique in the sensor industry. In fact, some types of sensors have always been printed.
For example, there are already various types of sensors partially manufactured by screen printing (also known as a "thick film" process). In such devices, the transducer is a printed layer of either a polymeric or ceramic material. This technology has been used in the sensor industry for many years.
Progress in printed electronics now enables more sensors to be fully printed. Since sensors have a much simpler structure than displays or logic circuits, the manufacturing learning curve is therefore less steep compared to many other printed electronics applications. In most cases, these new printed sensors can be made on plastic substrates, offering the advantages of mechanical flexibility, thinness and light weight.
This report covers the following categories of printed sensors:
  • Biosensors
  • Capacitive sensors
  • Piezoresistive sensors
  • Piezoelectric sensors
  • Photodetectors
  • Temperature sensors
  • Humidity sensors
  • Gas sensors
Established and emerging markets
Printed disposable blood glucose sensors currently generate $6 billion of revenue annually. These sensors are used by diabetics as a self-diagnosis tool. The technology is well-established but the market is now commoditized and in low-growth mode. However, other types of printed biosensors are emerging, targeting medical or fitness applications.
Some printed and flexible sensors such as photodetectors, temperature sensors or gas sensors are transitioning from R&D to mass production. These market segments are set to grow fast over the next 10 years.
Source: IDTechEx
Printed humidity sensors will have the highest growth rate. However, this can be explained by the fact that it is starting from a low base. The market size (in terms of revenue) will actually be much smaller compared to other segments.
Source: IDTechEx
Overall, IDTechEx forecasts that fully printed sensors will be worth more than $8 billion by 2025.
The market data in the report are at the sensor module level, thereby avoiding the common issue of including other components and services (system integration) in the revenue forecasts.
The complete picture
Save months of research by quickly learning who the key players are in printed and flexible sensors by using the latest information. Get the complete picture on the various technologies, their applications and the market sizes.
The report includes 10-year market forecasts for fully printed sensors as well as associated organic sensors:
  • Printed biosensors
  • Printed capacitive sensors
  • Printed piezoresistive sensors
  • Printed piezoelectric sensors
  • Printed photodetector
  • Printed temperature sensors
  • Printed humidity sensors
  • Printed gas sensors
  • Hybrid organic CMOS image sensors
  • Organic X-ray sensors
Included in the report is a listing of over 80 companies making thick film sensors or fully printed sensors. Sorted by sensor category, this listing helps you identify potential partners and suppliers.
The report also includes 23 detailed company profiles based on direct interviews by IDTechEx's analysts.
Analyst access from IDTechEx
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Table of Contents
1.1.Sensors in the printed electronics industry
1.1.How printed electronics enable flexible devices
1.2.Two types of printable materials
1.2.How printing enables flexibility
1.3.Different stages of commercialization
1.3.Market forecast for printed sensors to 2025 (in $ million)
1.4.Market for printed sensors in 2015, 2020, 2025 (excl. glucose strips)
1.4.Market size and growth rates
1.5.Bubble chart showing market sizes and CAGR
2.1.Scope and definitions
2.1.Multiple definitions of a sensor
2.1.1.What is a sensor?
2.1.2.What is a fully printed sensor?
2.2.Market size for fully printed sensors
2.2.Market forecast for fully printed sensors to 2025 (in $ million)
2.2.1.Revenue forecast (in USD)
2.2.2.CAGR per sensor type
2.2.3.Printed area, per sensor type
2.3.Market forecast for printed sensors, excluding glucose test strips
2.4.Compound annual growth rate between 2015-2025
2.4.Capacitive sensors
2.5.Piezoresistive sensors
2.5.Relative market size in 2020
2.6.Printed areas, excluding glucose test strips
2.6.Piezoelectric sensors
2.7.Market for printed biosensors ($ million)
2.7.1.Printed organic photodetectors
2.7.2.Organic X-ray sensors
2.7.3.Hybrid CMOS image sensors
2.8.Temperature sensors
2.8.Capacitive touchscreen sensors ($ million)
2.9.Market for printed capacitive sensors ($ million)
2.9.Humidity sensors
2.10.Gas sensors
2.10.Market for printed piezoresistive sensors ($ million)
2.11.Market for printed piezoelectric sensors ($million)
2.12.Market for printed photodetectors ($million)
2.13.Market for organic X-ray image sensors ($million)
2.14.Market for hybrid CMOS image sensors ($ million)
2.15.Market for printed temperature sensors ($million)
2.16.Market for printed humidity sensors ($million)
2.17.Market for printed gas sensors ($million)
3.1.Screen-printed electrodes
3.1.Screen printed electrode (SPE) from DropSens
3.1.Range of ink for printed biosensors from DuPont
3.2.Some of the most pressing technical challenges for printed glucose test strips
3.2.Example of a reader measuring the glucose level from a test strip.
3.2.Glucose test strips
3.2.1.Screen printing vs. sputtering
3.2.2.Technical challenges
3.2.3.Competing technologies
3.2.4.A multi-billion dollar market, but low growth
3.3.Emerging applications of printed biosensors
3.3.Glucose meter for iPhone. The iBGStar was developed by AgaMatrix and commercialised exclusively by Sanofi in 2012.
3.3.1.Wearable patches by Electrozyme
3.3.2.Cholesterol sensor
3.3.3.Tuberculosis testing
3.3.4.Drug screening
3.3.5.Breath sensing
3.3.6.Enhancements with nanomaterials
3.4.No generic design: test strips vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
3.5.Advantages of printing vs. sputtering on a scale of 1 to 5 (higher is better).
3.6.Evolution of sample volume needed
3.7.Glucose sensing contact lens
3.8.Two scenarios for the biosensors market ($ million)
3.9.Various types of electrochemical measurement techniques
3.10.Wearable device prototype, showing the disposable sensor patch
3.11.Sensor fabrication is based on screen printing
3.12.Smart Integrated Miniaturised Sensor (SIMS)
3.13.DRUGSENSOR for drug screening
3.14.Comparison between unmodified and CNT coated SPE.
3.15.The Omega 3 system, consisting of a reader and a microfluidic cartridge.
3.16.Nanostructured copper
4.1.Same structure, different materials available
4.1.Metal mesh printed using high precision screen printing on PET substrates
4.1.Companies involved in printed capacitive sensors
4.2.Direct Dry printing of carbon nanotubes
4.2.Key players
4.3.Touch sensors for touchscreens
4.3.The T-Ink overhead console
4.4.Side by side comparison between the standard equipment and the new one
4.4.Formable capacitive switches
4.4.1.A case study: the Ford Fusion
4.4.2.Integration with Injection Moulding shaped sensors based on PEDOT
4.5.Capacitive pressure sensing
4.5.Decorative and conductive inks are printed onto formable films
4.6.An example of integration by PolyIC
4.6.Fluid level sensor
4.7.Fingerprint sensors: will they be printed?
4.7.The touch sensor as the main interface of a car centre stack
4.8.Demonstrator from Heraeus
4.9.Demonstrator from Agfa
4.10.An array for pressure mapping
4.11.Storeskin is a concept by Plastic Electronic GmbH
4.12.Fluid level sensor
5.1.Thick film in pressure sensors
5.1.Comparison between thin film, thick film piezoresistive and silicon piezoresistive pressure sensors
5.1.The key players in printed piezoresistive force sensors
5.1.1.Ceramic vs. other common types of pressure sensors
5.1.2.Construction of a ceramic pressure sensor
5.2.Fully printed piezoresistive force sensors
5.2.Construction of a thick film pressure sensor.
5.2.Comparison of piezoresistive force sensors versus capacitive touch sensors
5.2.1.Sensor construction
5.3.Key players
5.3.Principles of piezoresistive sensors (force sensing resistors)
5.4.Two types of device construction
5.4.Applications and markets
5.4.2.Consumer electronics
5.4.5.Musical instruments
5.4.6.Strain and bend sensors
5.5.New technologies in piezoresistive sensors
5.5.Printed piezoresistive force sensor construction
5.5.1.Quantum tunnelling composite (QTC)
5.5.2.Interpolation for large area sensing
5.5.3.Piezoresistive textile
5.5.4.Artificial skin made with gold nanoparticles
5.6.Force sensor construction variant
5.7.Common applications of printed piezoresistive sensors
5.8.Peratech's QTC material inside a 5-way input device (Navikeys) from Samsung Electromechanics (2010).
5.9.Thin and lightweight keyboard for tablets
5.10.A look at the keyboard construction
5.11.Possible locations of various force sensors in a car
5.12.Large area piezoresistive sensor array demonstrated at Printed Electronics USA 2014
5.13.Strain and bend sensor
5.14.Artist view and actual microscope image of the QTC material.
5.15.Tactonic Technologies extra-large touchpad
5.16.Tactonic's customizable sensor design
6.1.Key players
6.1.Ulthera skin imaging device in use.
6.1.The key players in printed piezoelectric sensors
6.2.Main specifications of PiezoPaint (preliminary data)
6.2.Evolution in screen printing of piezoelectric materials
6.2.Printed PZT (inorganic)
6.2.2.Temperature requirements
6.2.3.Inkjet printing technology from Ricoh
6.3.Piezoelectric polymers
6.3.Magnified photograph of the PZT sample
6.3.2.Material suppliers
6.3.3.Sensor arrays for novel user interfaces
6.3.4.Heat sensing with piezoelectric polymers
6.4.Printed amino acids
6.4."Coffee stain effect" in ink jet printing
6.5.Synthesis of technologies to achieve accurate printing
6.6.Piezoelectric response of screen printed PVDF-TrFE on PEN substrate
6.7.Solvene can be printed or spin coated
6.8.Average transmittance (visible range between 400 nm and 700 nm), measured on 25-m thick film
6.9.PyzoFlex, a pressure-sensing input device.
6.10.PyzoFlex sensor array overlaid on a LCD screen.
6.11.Flexsense prototype by Microsoft Research
6.12.Schematic showing the printed polymer sensor connected to an organic transistor.
6.13.Heat sensor based on PVDF-TrFe
6.14.Heat sensor prototype
6.15.Schematic of the amino acid film on a flat substrate
6.16.Fabrication of the prototype sensor array
6.17.Pressure sensing floor mat (80cm x 80cm)
6.18.Change of capacitance with an applied load from 20 to 10,000 N.
7.1.Reasons to replace silicon
7.1.Main drivers to replace silicon in two applications: CMOS image sensors and X-ray sensors
7.1.Which companies are developing printed photodetectors
7.2.Structure of OPD device
7.2.Key players
7.3.Device structure
7.3.Pilot line for OPD fabrication
7.3.3.Slot die coating
7.4.Organic photodetectors (OPD)
7.4.Slot die coating of photodetector on a backplane
7.4.1.Enabling new form factors for optical sensors
7.4.2.ISORG building a production line for organic photodetectors
7.4.3.OLED and OPD device for pulse oximetry (UC Berkeley)
7.4.4.Academic research: photodetectors on textile
7.5.Hybrid CMOS image sensors
7.5.Organic photodiode characteristics (for near infra-red)
7.5.1.Organic semiconductors
7.5.2.Quantum dots
7.6.Flexible X-ray sensors
7.6.Organic photodiode characteristics (for visible light).
7.6.1.The role of photodiodes in X-ray sensors
7.6.2.NikkoIA develops organic imaging technology for X-rays sensors
7.6.3.Demonstration from the Flexible Display Center (Arizona State University)
7.6.4.Collaboration between ISORG and Plastic Logic demonstrates a flexible image sensor
7.6.5.Collaboration between Imec, Holst Centre, and Philips Research
7.7.Benchmark of OPD v.s silicon photodiode
7.8.Plastic foil of organic photodetectors
7.9.OPD for object detection by smart systems: logistics, retail, Point-Of-Sales display
7.10.8x8 arrays of organic photodetectors on a board
7.11.ISORG technology roadmap
7.12.Flexible pulse oximeter concept
7.13.Scanning electron micrograph image of the tin dioxide cloth
7.14.Organic CMOS image sensor and conventional image sensor
7.15.Image comparison
7.16.Image sensor pixel (top view)
7.17.CMOS VGA organic image sensor with 15µm-pixels:
7.18.Absorbing blue vs. red light in silicon vs. QuantumFilm
7.19.Principles of an indirect conversion digital radiography system
7.20.Main drivers to replace silicon in two applications: CMOS image sensors and X-ray sensors
7.21.Organic image sensors sensitive to X-rays, visible, and near infrared spectrum ranges.
7.22.Potential radiography applications for flexible display technology inch X-ray sensor at SID2012
7.24.ISORG and Plastic Logic demonstrate a flexible image sensor
7.25.Live demonstration of the sensor at Printed Electronics USA 2013 (tradeshow)
7.26.Fully-organic, flexible imager developed by imec, Holst Centre and Philips Research.
8.1.Key players
8.1.Typical response from a RTD (Pt100) and a thermistor
8.2.Pseudo linear response curve from platinum RTD (Pt-100)
8.2.Inks compatible with plastic substrates
8.2.Key players in printed temperature sensors
8.2.1.PST Sensors: Silicon nanoparticles ink
8.2.2.Research at PARC (Xerox)
8.2.3.Organic heat sensor
8.3.Silicon nanoparticles ink
8.3.1.Electronic tags as a replacement for time-temperature indicators
8.3.2.First proof-of-concept prototype of an integrated printed electronic tag
8.3.3.Wearable temperature monitors
8.3.4.Exploring new applications
8.4.Wireless temperature sensor made with carbon nanotubes
8.4.Negative Temperature Coefficient (NTC) thermistor
8.5.Printed thermistor from PST sensor demonstrated at Printed Electronics Europe 2013
8.6.Printed temperature sensor for Thinfilm's smart label (made by PST sensors)
8.7.Printed thermistor array on PET, made by PST sensors
8.8.Colour evolution of HEATmarker time-temperature indicators
8.9.Demonstrator with various components from ThinFilm, PARC, Acreo and PST Sensors
8.10.The concept of printed smart labels
8.11.Temperature sensor writing into memory
8.12.NTC temperature sensor on flexible printed circuit
8.13.Temperature sensing patch
8.14.A printed heat sensor
8.15.All-organic temperature sensor
8.16.All-organic temperature sensor evaluation
9.1.Principles of thick film humidity sensors
9.1.Porous ceramics humidity sensor
9.1.Key players in fully printed humidity sensors
9.1.1.Porous ceramics humidity sensors
9.1.2.Polymeric humidity sensors
9.2.Resistive and capacitive read-out
9.2.Key players
9.3.Printed wireless humidity sensors
9.3.Impedance response of a polymeric humidity sensor
9.3.1.Western Michigan University
9.3.2.Application to building monitoring
9.3.3.Invisense wins grant to develop new product
9.4.Capacitance readout at 25°C.
9.4.Integration of humidity and temperature sensors
9.4.1.PST Sensors
9.4.2.Brewer Science: ultrafast response with carbon nanotubes
9.5.Recommended signal conditioning circuit for capacitive readout in relative humidity (RH) sensors
9.6.Printed Wireless Humidity Sensors On Flexible Substrates
9.7.Wireless humidity sensor label
9.8.Printed and Flexible humidity sensor by PST Sensors
9.9.Flexible absolute humidity sensor
9.10.Live speech detection by humidity sensing
10.1.Metal-oxide gas sensor
10.1.Different types of gas sensors, not all can be printed
10.1.Key players in printed gas sensors - companies and associated technologies
10.1.5.Electronic nose (e-nose)
10.2.An electronic nose is a recognition system, not a sensor technology
10.2.Key players in printed gas sensors
10.3.All-printed gas sensors with solid electrolytes
10.3.KWJ Engineering technology roadmap
10.3.1.SPEC sensor
10.4.Characteristics of the CO sensor
10.4.Latest innovations
10.4.1.Aerosol jet printing
10.4.2.Inkjet Printing
10.4.3.New electronic nose device with inkjet-printed semiconductor
10.4.4.Research on acetone breath analysis
10.5.Sensor response to different levels of carbon monoxide
10.6.Photograph of a wafer containing 48 sensors.
10.7.Varying power consumption of the metal oxide gas sensors
10.8.Cross section representation
11.1.An index categorising over 80 companies by sensor type and geography
11.1.Listing of over 80 companies involved in printed sensors
11.2.Detailed company profiles
11.2.1.Arizona State University (ASU), USA
11.2.2.BeBop Sensors
11.2.3.DropSens, Spain
11.2.4.Electrozyme, USA
11.2.5.GSI Technologies, USA
11.2.6.Interlink Electronics, USA
11.2.7.ISORG, France
11.2.8.KWJ Engineering, USA
11.2.9.Meggitt A/S, Denmark
11.2.10.NikkoIA SAS, France
11.2.11.Peratech, UK
11.2.12.Piezotech (Arkema group), France
11.2.13.Plastic Electronic GmbH, Austria
11.2.14.PolyIC, Germany
11.2.15.PST Sensors, South Africa
11.2.16.Sensitronics, USA
11.2.17.Synkera Technologies, USA
11.2.18.Tactonic Technologies, USA
11.2.19.Tekscan, USA
11.2.20.Temptime, USA
11.2.21.Thin Film Electronics, Norway
11.2.22.T-Ink, USA
11.2.23.Vista Medical, Canada

Report Statistics

Pages 241
Tables 12
Figures 144
Forecasts to 2025

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