value chains,” said Steven Willoughby, marketing manager
for DuPont Microcircuit Materials. “Many of these new ap-
plications require collaboration throughout the value chain to
ensure that the materials, manufacturing processes, and equip-
ment all work together to deliver the electrical performance
“During the year, we have seen a lot of interest in our tech-
nology from potential clients in the PV, LED, RFID, sensors
for medical diagnostic and automotive applications, and PCB,
looking to either switch from silver- to copper-based inks or
looking to replace conventional PCB with a printed solu-
tion using copper ink – primarily in the interests of reducing
costs, but with secondary aims of using flexible, low tempera-
ture, cheap substrates, making lighter, smaller devices, making
throwaway devices, etc.,” said Ian Clark, sales and marketing
director at Intrinsiq Materials.
“ECM exploded in 2012 but slowed to normal levels in
2013,” said Steve Toyama of Engineered Conductive Materials
(ECM). “We expect and are seeing nice growth again in 2014.
We are growing in pressure sensitive inks and in sprayable inks
Paul Lindquist, business development manager, Methode
Electronics, Inc., said that during the past year, there has been
a lot of growth and interest in printed electronic applications.
“Methode has spent a significant amount of time focused
on finalizing and proving the robustness of the manufacturing
process for opportunities that have been in the pipeline for over
a year,” said Lindquist. “There was also a lot of interest generated at the printed electronics show, and most of that activity is
picking up in the first quarter of 2014.”
KEY MARKETS FOR CONDUCTIVE INKS
Flexible and printed electronics have the potential to be utilized in numerous markets. Sensors and labels, touch panels and
lighting, RFID and printed memory are just a few of the places
where PE can find a home.
For example, Reid noted silver nanofiber inks for transparent conductive films for touch panels are a key end use market.
Clark said that in the near term, PV, LED and RFID are interesting markets, while in the longer term, display, touch screen
and medical applications offer promise. Farnsworth noted that
displays are an excellent field.
“The percentage of our clients working with transpar-
ent-conductors and other display-related areas have grown
over the past year,” Farnsworth said. “These clients are tak-
ing many approaches to the TCO opportunity, both on
the materials-innovation side and on the processing side.
Packaging is also seeing increased interest. There has been
some activity historically in packaging, but the level of ac-
tivity in that space is really growing.”
“Our strategic focus on applications which include printed
antenna RFID and 3D, smart labels, touch switches and sensors,
and as part of our collaboration with T+ink, new advanced
material packages for applications such as touch code, are ex-
posing Sun Chemical to significant opportunities where a new
generation of materials is required,” Bjorlin said.
Toyama said that growth markets include computer input
devices, medical devices, biosensors, solar panels, heaters, ESD
coating in fabrics and possibly ACF adhesives. “All of the above
are in production, except for the pilot testing of ACF adhesives
currently going on now,” Toyama added.
Ganslaw said that Creative Materials is seeing growth in
medical applications, as well as lighting and touch sensors.
“We are seeing growth, particularly in the medical field in
lab testing for medical sensors for glucose or lead, or a patient’s
status in an ambulance,” Ganslaw added. “We are also seeing
opportunities in lighting with flexible LEDs and with busbars for touch sensors; there’s a lot of growth in those markets.
Printed memory is also a growing market for us.”
“At present, the standout market for conductive inks is
touch panels,” Osato said.
“Currently we are seeing the most activity in user interface,
RFID, display and biosensor applications,” Lindquist said.
Willoughby said that the medical diagnostic market continues to be prominent for conductive inks with new applications
starting to emerge.
“Other prominent markets include human interface appli-
cations such as traditional membrane touch switches and next-
generation touch technologies” said Willoughby. “There are
also exciting emerging opportunities in spaces such as antennas
and wearable electronics. We expect additional new applica-
tions to emerge that will make the idea of ‘electronics every-
where’ become a reality.”
Kaiserman said that T+ink has numerous customer verticals,
all of which have different requirements.
“For the T+Mold products, our conductive technology is
geared towards rigid automotive, aerospace and white goods
products, to name a few,” Kaiserman said. “We typically use
high Tg resins and polymers.
“For the Touch Code product, we span a myriad of substrates
from rigid glass to knit fabrics, and even to highly elastomeric
substrates requiring significant elongation of the conductive
materials,” Kaiserman noted. “This can use both low and high
Tg constituents to allow for continuity of the printed circuit
when subjected to abuse consistent with the particular industry
we deliver to. T+ink services the textile market, which requires
washable conductors for woven, knit and nonwoven fabrics
used for heaters, sensors and switches. T+ink also services the
packaging market that can print on paper, board, flexible substrates such as HDPE, LDPE, PVC, etc., or more rigid plastics
used for a blister pack and product packaging.”
HEADING TO COMMERCIALIZATION
For flexible and printed electronics to begin to reach their potential, products have to reach the marketplace. While some
applications have had commercial success - printed medical