Imagine buying sticky tape that makes, stores and uses electricity for its sensing, lighting and other functions. Cut off the shape you need and press it in the right place to switch on the features you need. It does not matter if you never use some features. Welcome to the world of edit-able smart materials as electronics and electrics in the new 150 page IDTechEx report, "Electronics Reshaped 2020-2040"
Buy electrically smart material you feed into your 3D printer then make whatever structure you wish. No need for a case. Squeeze your squashy battery, cut your supercapacitor or self-powered sensing and lighting into awkward spaces. Apply programmably-stretchable electronics sheet, the area determining several electrical parameters. Morphing electrical materials anyone? Enjoy photovoltaic and paint you apply when and where you wish, the thickness determining the performance. Thermoelectric paint is coming.
IDTechEx looked at 63 research programs. The majority target apparel/textile and medical/healthcare industries; then building/campus/home, then many other sectors.
It will delight the added value materials suppliers and horrify the traditional electronics and electrical engineering industries where they are bypassed. The trend is seen in 2.2 GW of thin film solar being installed in 2020 because this copper indium gallium diselenide is flexible and light-weight for building facades etc. Renovagen will even sell you 300kW reels to unroll like a carpet and use as a microgrid. Electrics and electronics become added-value materials.
Research groups have demonstrated batteries, sensors and triboelectric harvesting you cut to shape and they still work. Customizable, fabric-like power sources can be cut, folded or stretched without losing function. Perovskite and quantum dot photovoltaics show promise for photovoltaic paint. In many cases, the new technologies are not just edit-able, they replace other functions from load-bearing parts to regular paint and building cladding - two or three for the price, space, weight of one. That can justify high margins.
Industrial supply chains are being bypassed, parts are being eliminated and value-added material companies see huge opportunities ahead for this electrically-smart feedstock, reels and paint. Where they sell electrical ink to the start of traditional production lines, they will sell cleverer versions direct to many other industries.
The report, "Electronics Reshaped 2020-2040" has an executive summary and conclusions with new infograms explaining what it is, many examples and possibilities, winners and losers. See 33 primary conclusions, a 2020-2040 commercialisation timeline and ten forecasts for addressable markets. The introduction explains more, giving depth on conformal, stretchable and morphing electronics as material, particularly edit-able forms. Chapter 3 is on batteries to go anywhere and Chapter 4 does that for supercapacitors. Chapter 5 interprets research on photovoltaics as feedstock for the user. Chapter 6 is on solar tape and structures, Chapter 7 on forthcoming photovoltaic, thermoelectric and triboelectric paint. Chapter 8 covers triboelectric nanogenerators material as motion harvesting the user can customize. Chapter 9 reveals complete circuits in plastic sheet you cut to shape and dedicate. Chapter 10 explains Papertronics taking you into the world of low-cost electronic packaging and biodegradability. Chapter 11 explains how everything from your computer case to your car body could be made from load-bearing electrically-smart material. Finally, Chapter 12 reveals where reconfigurable metamaterials and composites are headed in this context.