Printed Electronics: IDTechEx

This report is no longer available. Click here to view our current reports or contact us to discuss a custom report.

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

Printed Electronics

Where, why and what next

Updated in October 2006

Show All Description Contents, Table & Figures List Pricing Related Content
This report has been replaced with 'Introduction to Printed Electronics'. To find out more about this new report please visit
Printed electronics is a term that encompasses much more than the long awaited commercialisation of thin film transistor circuits (TFTCs) and organic light emitting diode displays (OLEDs). Both will have greatest potential when we can print them on common packaging material. TFTCs will be more robust and lower in cost than silicon chips so they will appear everywhere from singing gift cards to smart medical packaging and moving colour pictures in electronic books. However, those devices are only a part of what is going on.
All significant developments in printed electronics are closely analysed in this report. Unusually, we also look at the many printed electronic devices and displays - electrochromic, electroluminescent, etc. - that are already a commercial reality even on flexible substrates. Today's successes also employ conductors, batteries, inductors, antennas, capacitors and electrically active materials that are printed. The moving colour billboard and gift card that are printed on flexible plastic are a reality today but rarely reported - there are lessons to be learned.
Other advances are close behind, including printed thin film fuel cells and solar cells. Later will come self-adjusting 'use by' dates, printed microprocessors and other wonders. The report describes three waves of development and the range of new applications and new suppliers being spawned as a result. However, it is not a listing of technologies but a thorough review of the changes in society that are driving these developments, a description of the new products that are needed and the very low prices at which these, usually disposable devices will sell in the millions to trillions. The most exciting suppliers and users that are emerging are identified and eleven-year forecasts are made by product. Brands will be reinvented to fight off the supermarket clones. The increasing percentage of dependent elderly will achieve better health and freedom thanks to ubiquitous disposable electronics. Automated, error free, pain free drug delivery from smart skin patches with sensors is just one example.
Those ignoring this revolution will miss the very rapid change in healthcare, consumer goods, military, postal and other sectors that results and the new legislation demanding the new levels of error prevention, safety and traceability that will become possible. They will not be among those creating major new companies and services from nowhere. They will be left behind.
This report has been replaced with 'Introduction to Printed Electronics'. To find out more about this new report please visit
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.Definitions and hot topics
1.1.Valentine’s card produced by Dow Chemical subsidiary Commotion Printed Display Solutions in 2003 that had a printed electrochromic display with silicon chip and conventional button battery.
1.1.1.Disposable flexible circuits have the biggest actual and potential success
1.1.2.Profitable sales of printed electronics today and scope for much more
1.2.Scope of this report
1.2.Origami electronics Origami electronics
1.3.Dependent elderly as a percentage of the population 1970-2040
1.3.Suboptimal marketing?
1.4.The need for disposable flexible electronics
1.4.Power Paper disposable paper timer.
1.4.1.Totally new concepts and markets – origami electronics
1.4.2.Ubiquitous talking and scrolling packages
1.4.3.Customer pull and legal push for printed electronics
1.4.4.Self adjusting use by date
1.4.6.Large area displays
1.4.7.Flexible mid sized displays
1.4.8.Large area photovoltaics and sensors
1.4.9.Great significance for the military
1.5.The big dream for the technology
1.5.Time temperature recording label with optional printed electronic display on top.
1.6.Great success today – reasons why
1.7.Relationship to the silicon chip
1.7.1.Circuits that do not call for silicon chips
1.7.2.Replacing silicon chips
1.7.3.No progress in reducing the cost of simple silicon chips
1.7.4.Chip famines
1.7.5.Where transistors are needed and the silicon chip is a non-starter
1.8.Evolution of printed electronics
1.8.1.Materials used and objectives
1.8.2.Leap forward in sensor technology
1.9.How to keep up with the subject in future
2.1.Package developed by Cypak and the Swedish Post Office that detects time of tampering and signals by RFID
2.1.1.Smart packaging
2.1.2.CASE STUDY: Duracell battery testers
2.1.3.Diagnostic labels
2.1.4.CASE STUDY: Findus and Bioett Sweden
2.1.5.Games for McDonalds and Hasbro
2.1.6.Dictionary, audio story book and mathematics book with sensors
2.1.7.Disposable calculators
2.1.8.Temporary tattoos
2.1.9.Wearable Electronics
2.1.10.Smart skin patches and patient compliance monitoring
2.1.11.Transparent conducting layers
2.1.12.Membrane keyboards
2.1.13.RFID Tag antennas
2.1.14.Displays and lighting – a beginning
2.2.Technology and developers
2.2.Duracell battery testing chipless label – front and reverse view
2.2.2.Capacitors, resistors, sensors
2.2.3.Inductors/ antennas
2.3.Reverse of the Bioett TTI label
2.4.Disposable calculator in hardback notebook
2.5.The percentage level of non-compliance by type of affliction
2.6.An electronic blisterpack for compliance monitoring
2.7.Cosmetic skin patch employing iontophoresis
2.8.Low cost roll up zip up calculator
2.9.Philips Sensotec 8894 shaver with display indicating time left before battery charge and need for cleaning.
2.10.Kodak OLED display on a digital camera.
3.1.Shapes of battery for small RFID tags advantages and disadvantages
3.1.The Power Paper battery
3.2.The Infinite Power battery is very small
3.2.Examples of suppliers of coin type batteries by country
3.2.Technology and developers
3.2.1.Battery overview
3.2.2.Power Paper
3.2.3.Solicore, USA
3.2.4.SCI, USA
3.2.5.Infinite Power Solutions, USA
3.2.6.Cymbet USA
3.2.7.Thin Battery Technologies USA
3.2.8.Printed battery research
3.3.Fuel cells
3.3.The spectrum of choice of technologies for batteries in smart packaging
3.3.Infinite Power batteries ready for use
3.4.Cymbet lithium thin film flexible battery
3.4.Examples of potential sources of flexible thin film batteries
3.4.1.CASE STUDY: Konarka
3.5.Examples of universities and research centres developing laminar batteries
3.5.Relative performance claimed by Cymbet for its flexible batteries
3.5.1.Major needs in society
3.5.2.Tradeoff of cost, resolution, brightness, thickness etc
3.5.3.Technical challenges
3.5.5.CASE STUDY: Commotion Printed Display Solutions USA
3.5.6.Markets for electrochromic displays
3.5.7.Organic Light Emitting Diodes
3.5.8.CASE STUDY: Bell Labs/ DuPont/ Sarnoff
3.5.9.OLED advances by Philips
3.5.10.CASE STUDY: Cambridge Display Technology
3.5.11.Markets for OLEDs
3.5.12.Micromachined Electromechanical Systems (MEMS)
3.5.13.CASE STUDY: Sony/ Dai Nippon Printing
3.5.14.Electroluminescent and other printed displays
3.5.15.CASE STUDY: elumin8
3.5.16.Electronic paper
3.5.17.CASE STUDY: ACREO Sweden
3.5.18.Electrophoretic displays
3.5.19.CASE STUDY: Philips, Toppan Printing, Sony and E-ink
3.6.Some choices of printed electronic display that are becoming available
3.6.Manganese dioxide-zinc thin film battery from Thin Battery Technologies.
3.7.Konarka photovoltaic flexible film
3.7.Advantages and disadvantages of ink jet printing of OLEDs
3.8.Advantages and disadvantages of electrophoretic displays
3.8.A Cambridge Display Technology colour OLED display
3.9.CPDS display before the 1.5 volts bias is applied
3.9.Comparison between OLEDs and E-Ink of various parameters
3.10.CPDS display after the 1.5 volts bias is applied
3.11.Left showing the internal network of resistors and right the resulting flashing message.
3.12.How traditional electrochromic ink works
3.13.How Commotion proprietary inks work
3.14.Basic structure of an OLED
3.15.Different constructions for, left, small molecule OLEDs and, right, large molecule OLEDs called PLEDs
3.16.Process flow in manufacture of OLEDs
3.17.An example of a display is shown below.
3.18.A promotional display used at DeBeers
3.19.EAS tag patterned with use of the dry phase patterning method
3.20.The dollhouse. When energy is added to the system the colour of the wallpaper changes and a picture appears on the wall
3.21.The same display shown in its two states. When energy is added to the system, the landscape to the left fades out and the winter landscape to the right emerges
3.22.Seven segment display printed with bi-stable inks
3.23.Microspheres used in Gyricon electrophoretic displays
3.24.Assembly of Gyricon spheres
3.25.Demonstration of large area Gyricon flexible display
3.26.An experimental Gyricon display with a printed thin film transistor drive circuit from Plastic Logic on a polymer substrate.
3.27.The principle behind E-Ink’s technology
3.28.E-Ink and Philips’ Advanced Paper-Like Display prototype
4.1.Potential applications
4.1.Typical reasons for prioritisation of eventual applications and cautions
4.1.Progression of difficulty with drive circuits for flexible active matrix displays
4.1.1.Problems remaining
4.1.2.Walk before you run
4.1.3.Large area electronics
4.2.Benefits of the best TFTCs vs very small silicon chips
4.2.TFTC Technology
4.2.Coplanar electrode thin film transistor
4.2.1.Construction of a TFT and benefits
4.2.2.Choices of substrate
4.2.3.Choices of conductor
4.2.4.Choices of semiconductor
4.2.5.Market position of eight developers of enabling technology
4.2.6.Market direction and progress of 26 TFTC developers
4.2.7.TFTC Value chain
4.2.8.Shortcomings of today’s TFTs in the laboratory
4.2.9.The quest for higher frequency performance
4.2.10.Developments in Organic Semiconductor Materials: Pentacene, PEDOT and Oligotron
4.2.11.Special agendas
4.2.12.Status of 27 developers of TFTCs
4.2.13.Developing production technology for TFTCs
4.3.Comparison of performance of conductive layers for RFID antennas in ohms per square meter
4.3.Printing large memories
4.3.Evolving level of difficulty of substrates in creating low-cost TFTCs
4.4.Options for interconnect, antenna and electrode materials to make high speed transistor circuits
4.4.Examples of companies that have relevant know-how and/or patents but do not appear to be interested in developing TFTCs at present
4.5.Organisations investigated that are developing TFTCs
4.5.Options for semiconductor materials to make TFTs on low-cost flexible substrates. Shown as a function of cost and frequency.
4.6.Options for high speed, low-cost printing of TFTCs
4.6.Typical carrier mobility in different TFTC semiconductors (actual and envisaged). Single crystal silicon may have a figure of up to 1,000 cm2/vs but it is not currently envisaged as a TFTC material
4.7.Special agendas of some developers of low-cost transistor material circuits
4.7.Value chain for TFTCs and examples of migration of activity for players
4.8.Status of developers of TFTCs – choice of substrate, semiconductor, deposition method and equipment
4.9.Status of 27 developers of TFTCs – uniqueness, technology portfolio, RFID related performance data and potential problems for this approach with respect to RFID
5.1.Smart Printing or laminating TFTCs, printed displays, advanced sensors and many other components together
5.1.Some new capabilities arising from printed displays, TFTCs, memory etc.
5.1.1.Why replace silicon chips connected to other components?
5.1.2.Making new products possible
5.2.Technology and developers
5.2.2.Optical signalling
5.2.3.Advanced sensors
6.1.Envisaged benefits of TFTCs in RFID and other low-cost applications when compared with envisaged silicon chips
6.1.Concept of a diagnostic patch
6.1.1.Needs for EPS RFID
6.1.2.Self adjusting use by date
6.1.3.Moving colour displays on low cost CPG and newspapers.
6.1.4.Diagnostic patches
6.2.Typical features demanded of high volume RFID tags
6.3.Probable value split of the global RFID market, by value and numbers as a function of frequency, in 2010
7.1.Statistics for the global semiconductor market in 2003. The different categories overlap
7.1.Context of today’s electronics industry
7.1.Forecast rollout of EPC globally for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG)
7.2.cintelliq forecast of dates of commercialisation of low cost devices based on thin film organic semiconductors
7.2.Smart packaging
7.2.Size of global advertising industry
7.2.1.Diverting advertising spend to packaging
7.2.2.Reducing retail administration
7.2.3.Packaging industry
7.2.4.Importance of healthcare
7.3.Growth of world packaging market 2004 to 2014, in billions of dollars
7.3.Electronic and electrical smart packaging projections
7.3.3.RFID in packaging
7.4.RFID in general
7.4.Applicational market for packaging split by flexible or non-flexible material, in percentages
7.5.Average cost of some food packaging materials
7.6.Growth of pharmaceutical packaging industry globally, 2003 to 2014, in billions of US dollars
7.7.Types of pharmaceutical packaging in the USA
7.7.Active packaging
7.8.Cost comparison for packages containing 30 tablets, by format
7.9.Market opportunities for low-cost displays, by technology
7.9.Timeline for key new materials and processes
7.10.TFT launch dates
7.10.Stanford Resources forecast for global OLED sales 2002-2008 with IDTechEx estimate of percentage concerned with packaging
7.11.Global EAS market, by numbers in billions of tags and average tag price, 2004 and 2014
7.11.Milestones 2005 – 2015
7.12.Global market for RFID smart labels and systems, 2004 to 2015
7.13.Forecast for numbers, in billions, of EAS and RFID smart packaging devices sold globally, 2004 to 2014
7.14.Unit price in cents of electronic smart packaging devices 2004 and 2014
7.15.Value of the global market for electronic smart packaging devices 2004 to 2014 in billions of dollars
7.16.The world market for TTI indicators for food and drink packaging
7.17.Market segments prioritised by active packaging suppliers
7.18.TFTC project launch dates, history, implementation on flexible substrates and funding
7.19.Milestones in the evolution of printed electronics 2005 2015

Subscription Enquiry