This report has been updated. Click here to view latest edition.

If you have previously purchased the archived report below then please use the download links on the right to download the files.

Printed and Flexible Sensors 2017-2027: Technologies, Players, Forecasts

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

Show All Description Contents, Table & Figures List Pricing Related Content
Sensors that are printed on flexible substrates represent a growing market. Although the biggest segment — blood glucose test strips — is currently shrinking, the next generation of printed sensors will enable other applications, from human-machine interfaces to environmental sensing. IDTechEx predicts the market for fully printed sensors will reach $7.6 billion by 2027.
These sensors benefit from the latest materials and technologies in the printed electronics industry. While some may consist of a very simple structure with only a few electrodes, others are much more complex and require the deposition of multiple layers. What they have in common is the capability to be manufactured on plastic substrates, which offer advantages in terms of mechanical flexibility, thinness and weight reduction.
This report covers the following categories of printed sensors:
  • Biosensors
  • Capacitive sensors
  • Piezoresistive sensors
  • Piezoelectric sensors
  • Optical sensors
  • Temperature sensors
  • Humidity sensors
  • Gas sensors
Source: IDTechEx
It should be noted that printing is not a new manufacturing technique in the sensor industry and in some cases, has been used as a standard process for many years. This report gives examples of the sensors that are based on "thick film", whereby some layers of sensing materials are deposited by screen printing. These devices are not fully printed but contain a printed layer of either a polymeric or ceramic material.
Growth in emerging applications
Printed disposable glucose sensors currently generate the majority of revenues. These sensors are used by diabetics as a self-diagnosis tool. This technology is essential for those patients but the market is now commoditized and there is pressure on price. This explains why the industry is developing new biosensors, where the innovation lies in recognizing various biomarkers.
Other printed and flexible sensors such as gas sensors, temperature sensors or photodetectors are now moving into mass production. This transition from R&D to commercialization will drive growth in emerging applications.
Photodetectors can be printed as single detectors or deposited on active matrix devices, either thin-film transistor (TFT) backplanes or CMOS chips. The various configurations lead to different addressable markets, such as image sensors or digital X-ray sensors.
IDTechEx has closely followed the progress of printed and flexible sensors for several years. Each emerging application is described in detail, based on direct conversations with sensor manufacturers and illustrated with photographs of real devices.
The complete picture
Save months of research by quickly learning who the key players are in printed and flexible sensors and the latest information. Get the complete picture on the various technologies, their applications and the market sizes.
The report includes 10-year revenue forecasts for printed and flexible sensors, with the following market segments:
  • Biosensors
  • Capacitive
  • Piezoresistive (force)
  • Piezoelectric
  • Photodetectors
  • Photodetectors on CMOS chip
  • Photodetectors on TFT backplane
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Gas
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 forecasts.
Also 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.
Analyst access from IDTechEx
All report purchases include up to 30 minutes telephone time with an expert analyst who will help you link key findings in the report to the business issues you're addressing. This needs to be used within three months of purchasing the report.
Further information
If you have any questions about this report, please do not hesitate to contact our report team at or call one of our sales managers:

AMERICAS (USA): +1 617 577 7890
ASIA (Japan): +81 3 3216 7209
EUROPE (UK) +44 1223 812300
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 and flexible sensors to 2027 (in $ million)
1.4.Market for printed and flexible sensors (excl. glucose strips)
1.4.Market size and growth
1.5.Projected market growth during the period 2016-2027 (in $ million)
2.1.Scope and definitions
2.1.Multiple definitions of a sensor
2.1.1.What is a sensor?
2.1.2.What do we define as fully printed sensor?
2.2.Market size overview
2.2.Market forecasts for all segments, until 2027 (in $ million)
2.2.1.Revenue forecast for all market segments
2.2.2.CAGR per sensor type
2.2.3.Revenue forecast for fully printed sensors only
2.2.4.Other charts
2.3.Compound annual growth rate between 2017-2027
2.4.Projected market growth during the period 2016-2027
2.4.Capacitive sensors
2.5.Piezoresistive sensors
2.5.Market forecast for fully printed sensors to 2027 (in $ million)
2.6.Market forecast for printed sensors, excluding glucose test strips
2.6.Piezoelectric sensors
2.7.Printed area in square meters, excluding glucose test strips
2.7.1.Printed organic photodetectors
2.7.2.Photodetectors on TFT backplanes
2.7.3.Hybrid CMOS image sensors
2.8.Temperature sensors
2.8.Printed and flexible sensors: revenues by category
2.9.Comparison of each segment size by 2021 (excl. glucose strips)
2.9.Humidity sensors
2.10.Gas sensors
2.10.Market for printed and flexible sensors (excl. glucose strips)
2.11.Market for printed biosensors ($ million)
2.12.Market for capacitive sensors ($ million)
2.13.Market for printed piezoresistive sensors ($ million)
2.14.Market for printed piezoelectric sensors ($million)
2.15.Market for printed photodetectors ($million)
2.16.Market for photodetectors on TFT backplane sensors ($million)
2.17.Market for hybrid CMOS image sensors ($ million)
2.18.Market for printed temperature sensors ($million)
2.19.Market for printed humidity sensors ($million)
2.20.Market for printed gas sensors ($million)
3.1.Screen-printed electrodes
3.1.Range of ink for printed biosensors from DuPont
3.1.Screen printed electrode (SPE) from DropSens
3.2.Example of a reader measuring the glucose level from a test strip.
3.2.Some of the most pressing technical challenges for printed glucose test strips
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
3.3.1.Wearable patches by Biolinq
3.3.3.Cholesterol sensor
3.3.5.Tuberculosis testing
3.3.6.Drug screening
3.3.7.Breath sensing
3.3.8.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.Various types of electrochemical measurement techniques
3.9.Wearable device prototype, showing the disposable sensor patch
3.10.Sensor fabrication is based on screen printing
3.11.Sensor for mouthguard
3.12.Smart Integrated Miniaturised Sensor (SIMS)
3.13.DRUGSENSOR for drug screening
3.14.Sensor array for glucose breathalyser
3.15.Batch of sensors on plastic film
3.16.Comparison between unmodified and CNT coated SPE.
3.17.The Omega 3 system, consisting of a reader and a microfluidic cartridge
3.18.Nanostructured copper
4.1.Same structure, different materials available
4.1.Companies involved in printed capacitive sensors
4.1.Metal mesh printed using high precision screen printing on PET substrates
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.In-Mold Electronics
4.9.Examples of functionalities on a control panel
4.10.Demonstrator from Heraeus
4.11.Demonstrator from Agfa
4.12.An array for pressure mapping
4.13.Storeskin is a concept by Plastic Electronic GmbH
4.14.Capacitive force touch sensor
4.15.Fluid level sensor
4.16.Live demonstration of fluid level sensor at IDTechEx event (Berlin 2016)
5.1.Pressure sensors with thick-film technology
5.1.The key players in printed piezoresistive force sensors
5.1.Comparison between thin film, thick film piezoresistive and silicon piezoresistive pressure 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 force sensors
5.2.Comparison of piezoresistive force sensors versus capacitive touch sensors
5.2.Construction of a thick film pressure sensor.
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
5.4.1.Consumer electronics
5.4.4.Musical instruments
5.4.5.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.Examples of ink suppliers
5.8.Common applications of printed piezoresistive sensors
5.9.Peratech's QTC material inside a 5-way input device (Navikeys) from Samsung Electromechanics (2010).
5.10.Thin and lightweight keyboard for tablets
5.11.A look at the keyboard construction
5.12.Possible locations of various force sensors in a car
5.13.Large area piezoresistive sensor array demonstrated at Printed Electronics USA 2014
5.14.Strain and bend sensor
5.15.Artist view and actual microscope image of the QTC material.
5.16.Tactonic Technologies extra-large touchpad
5.17.Tactonic's customizable sensor design
6.1.Key players
6.1.The key players in printed piezoelectric sensors
6.1.Ulthera skin imaging device in use.
6.2.Evolution in screen printing of piezoelectric materials
6.2.Main specifications of PiezoPaint (preliminary data)
6.2.Printed PZT (inorganic)
6.2.1.Temperature requirements
6.2.2.Inkjet printing technology from Ricoh
6.3.Piezoelectric polymers
6.3.Magnified photograph of the PZT sample
6.3.1.Material suppliers
6.3.2.Sensor arrays for novel user interfaces
6.3.3.Wearable sensor
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.Wearable sensor that detects bends
6.13.Schematic showing the printed polymer sensor connected to an organic transistor.
6.14.Heat sensor based on PVDF-TrFe
6.15.Heat sensor prototype
6.16.Schematic of the amino acid film on a flat substrate
6.17.Fabrication of the prototype sensor array
6.18.Pressure sensing floor mat (80cm x 80cm)
6.19.Change of capacitance with an applied load from 20 to 10,000 N.
7.1.Reasons to replace silicon
7.1.Which companies are developing printed photodetectors
7.1.Main drivers to replace silicon in two applications: CMOS image sensors and X-ray sensors
7.2.Structure of OPD device
7.2.Key players
7.3.Device structure
7.3.Pilot line for OPD fabrication
7.3.2.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 on CMOS chip
7.5.2.Quantum dots on CMOS chip
7.6.Photodetectors on TFT backplane
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 FlexEnable demonstrates flexible image sensors
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.Materials available for visible and infrared sensing
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.Materials available for QuantumFilm
7.18.Absorbing blue vs. red light in silicon vs. QuantumFilm
7.19.CMOS VGA organic image sensor with 15µm-pixels:
7.20.Principles of an indirect conversion digital radiography system
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.Comparison of leakage current of the OTFT with other commonly used technologies
7.27.Fingerprint sensor, demonstrated at the IDTechEx Show
7.28.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.Combination sensor and chip on the same plastic substrate
8.8.Printed thermistor array on PET, made by PST sensors
8.9.Colour evolution of HEATmarker time-temperature indicators
8.10.Demonstrator with various components from ThinFilm, PARC, Acreo and PST Sensors
8.11.The concept of printed smart labels
8.12.Temperature sensor writing into memory
8.13.NTC temperature sensor on flexible printed circuit
8.14.Temperature sensing patch
8.15.A printed heat sensor
8.16.All-organic temperature sensor
8.17.All-organic temperature sensor evaluation
9.1.Principles of thick film humidity sensors
9.1.Key players in fully printed humidity sensors
9.1.Porous ceramics humidity sensor
9.1.1.Porous ceramics humidity sensors
9.1.2.Polymeric humidity sensors
9.2.Key players
9.2.Resistive and capacitive read-out
9.3.Impedance response of a polymeric humidity sensor
9.3.Printed wireless humidity sensors
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.Integration of humidity and temperature sensors
9.4.Capacitance readout at 25°C.
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.Different types of gas sensors, not all can be printed
10.1.Key players in printed gas sensors - companies and associated technologies
10.1.Metal-oxide gas sensor
10.1.5.Electronic nose (e-nose)
10.2.Key players in printed gas sensors
10.2.An electronic nose is a recognition system, not a sensor technology
10.3.KWJ Engineering technology roadmap
10.3.All-printed gas sensors with solid electrolytes
10.3.1.SPEC sensors
10.4.Other innovations
10.4.Characteristics of the CO sensor
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.Sensors available in 2016
10.7.Detection limits
10.8.Portable pollution detector with a CO sensor
10.9.Photograph of a wafer containing 48 sensors.
10.10.Varying power consumption of the metal oxide gas sensors
10.11.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

Report Statistics

Pages 208
Tables 12
Figures 161
Forecasts to 2027

Subscription Enquiry