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Printed electronics: Innovation with a Bright Future

Printed electronics are conductive polymers and inks that can be printed onto foil, paper, glass, or fabrics, across large areas and at low cost. Compared to conventional electronics, these electronic components offer a number of benefits: They are extremely thin, flexible and transparent. They can be used for a wide range of applications, e.g., in consumer electronics, packaging, the automotive industry, pharmaceuticals, energy, or white goods. The result: innovative products such as touch sensors, flexible displays, solar cells, luminescent films and smart labels.

A number of terms are used to describe printed electronics, including:

  • Organic electronics
  • Conductive synthetics/polymer electronics
  • Flexible electronics
  • Printable inorganic electronics
  • Large-area electronics
  • Thin-film electronics
  • Plastic electronics
  • Abbreviations such as OLAE or FOLAE (flexible organic and large-area electronics)

All of these terms essentially refer to the same thing: Electronics applied in a way that goes beyond the traditional approach.

Printed electronics are already present in our everyday life which is reflected by the integration of a number of PE applications as a standard in the automotive industry. Examples are printed antennas, occupancy sensors integrated into seats and automatic anti-glare rear view mirrors as well as test strips in the pharmaceutical industry.

© OE-A (Organic and Printed Electronics Association)

Printed electronics are also used in solar cells, sensors, keyboards, and displays, thereby turning simple products into smart objects. Still in the development phase but technically feasible are luminous wallpapers or smart food packaging that allows continuous tracking of the cold chain. Organic photovoltaic cells that can cover entire building facades offer a fresh, new impetus for the energy sector.

What is printed electronics? The animated video of LOPEC explains it to you in one minute!