How can print service providers (PSPs) take advantage of the growing market for radio-frequency identification (RFID) and printed electronics? Prior to 2012, the cumulative number of RFID tags sold over the past 65 years was 15.1 billion. Some 20 percent of those were sold in 2011, according to...
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“First and foremost, Komori is an expert in precision manufacturing, and the entry into the printed electronics marketplace reinforces Komori’s message at drupa 2012 that we are expanding into new markets,” said Kosh Miyao, president and COO of Komori America Corporation. “We are very excited about this new product offering, not only for the opportunities for business growth it provides, but as further evidence of Komori’s commitment to the advancement of printing technology.”
ePaper Adds Organic Flexibility
Most of us have seen flexible thin screens and e-paper in scifi flicks, but at Xerox’s PARC (Palo Alto Research Center Inc.) subsidiary, such devices are the reality. A separate profit center for more than 10 years, PARC is a research and development company with a distinguished reputation for contributions to information technology and hardware systems. Founded in 1970 as a division of Xerox, its scientists and engineers have been responsible for such well known and important developments as laser printing, Ethernet, the modern personal computer, graphical user interface (GUI), object-oriented programming, ubiquitous computing, amorphous silicon (a-Si) applications, and advancing very-large-scale-integration (VLSI) for semiconductors.
The market for flexible, printed, and organic large-area electronics is growing rapidly. Presently estimated at over $1 billion, the global market is expected to explode to $45 billion by 2016, according to PARC and Xerox prognosticators. The majority of this market growth will come from new markets enabled or disrupted by the use of flexible substrates, from opportunities enabled by low-cost printing of full-feature electronics, and from electronic devices integrated into novel systems or form factors.
One technology enabler is organic printing, the cousin of printed electronics. Organic print features semiconductors such as photoluminescent polymers and small molecules, liquid crystals, triplet emitters, and other light-emitting polymers. Compared to inorganic, silicon-based materials, organic materials are flexible, relatively cost-effective, and easy to manufacture. They are used in high-performance devices like organic photovoltaic (OPV) and OLED displays as well as organic thin-film transistors (OTFT). Organic materials also are used as components of conductive inks, so devices can be efficiently fabricated using inkjet printing technology. (Last spring, Agfa Specialty Products introduced a new portfolio of Orgacon products enabling cost-efficient manufacturing of solution processed OPVs on flexible substrates. These formulations are designed for roll-to-roll processing on polymer substrates by slot die coating, inkjet, or screen printing.)
The aforementioned flexible electronics are lightweight, rugged, bendable, rollable, portable, and potentially foldable. Much of PARC’s current work involves thin-film transistors (TFT) and p-i-n photodiodes for flat panel display and image sensor backplanes. (P-i-n diodes feature a wide, lightly doped “near” intrinsic semiconductor region between a p-type semiconductor and an n-type semiconductor region.) PARC technologists also have demonstrated low-temperature a-Si on plastic; laser-crystallized polySi (polycrystalline silicon) on metal foil and quartz; and innovative fabrication techniques ranging from laser recrystallization to jet-printed, mask-less digital lithography.
Last November, Samsung Fine Chemicals (SFC) chose PARC to validate use of its new materials for printed displays. (Korea-based Samsung also produces laser printer toner and liquid crystal polymer, among other products.) The client relationship will apply and implement SFC’s material technologies in innovative printed transistor prototypes for mobile phones, TVs, tablet computers, and laptop displays. PARC will build on its vast expertise in printed transistors to demonstrate Samsung’s breakthrough material offerings that will enable novel display products.
“PARC has a significant track record of not only technology innovation, but also in innovation that creates market and new business opportunities,” commented In Hee Sung, CEO of Samsung Fine Chemicals. “PARC’s experience in printed transistors along with their passionate team of researchers is a key success factor in this open innovation. We are very eager to see the fruits of this relationship and hope to make progress to capture this market in the future.”