Printed electronics in the packaging sector: from information to staging

From mere container to multifunctional information and marketing tool: In the future, packaging will experience a substantial upward revaluation thanks to the diverse possibilities of printed electronics. Product packaging is the largest printed product and has four important functions: containment, protection, convenience, and communication.

Integrated, printed temperature sensors with RFID functionality, for example, allow better tracking of whether the cold chain has been maintained at all times. Electronic components providing information about product and manufacturer can also be imprinted and read out by the smartphone via NFC. Examples are smart expiry date label or logistics monitoring label. Printed electronics can help to identify counterfeits quickly and easily.

New marketing opportunities are opened up by ultra-flat lighting elements that are printed directly onto the cardboard material. They make it possible, for example, to produce luminous colored packaging emitting light on the shelf. The interior of a product carton can also be equipped with impressive lighting effects that make unboxing an experience.

The energy required for these and other applications is increasingly generated and stored by ultra-flat and flexible integrated solar cells and batteries—another domain of printed electronics.