By Leo Valiquette
Products and applications using printable, flexible and hybrid electronics (FHE) are already on the market, in industries ranging from consumer electronics to packaging to secure documents to healthcare to automotive.
These manufacturing verticals each represent billions of dollars in economic activity for Canada on an annual basis. FHE represents hundreds of millions in new opportunity as industries both within and outside the domain of traditional electronics look to reinvent themselves in the face of stiff global competition.
Manufacturers must ask themselves – what can FHE add to the equation? Why should I invest in developing products and equipping my production lines to handle the processes necessary to incorporate FHE componentry into a product?
Compared to conventional electronics components and systems, FHE can deliver substantial savings in cost to manufacture. FHE components consume less power, take up less space, and can be incorporated into parts through in-mould and additive processes. They can be disposable, biodegradable and even flexible and stretchable – attributes that defy the limitations of traditional rigid components.
Just take a look at how FHE is already being adopted in the automotive supply chain.
FHE components are already found in seat occupancy sensors and heating elements, electrochromic mirror and window glass, and touch screens. Audi, BMW and others are designing taillights with OLEDs that are thinner, lighter and capable of far more stylish designs than conventional options. Jaguar Land Rover is pushing the boundaries of windshield projection and making the pillars between doors “transparent” with embedded screens. The health of the humble tire can now be monitored with printed sensors that could cost less than a penny each in mass production.
In addition to increasing occupant comfort and safety, FHE can make vehicles lighter and more fuel-efficient.
FHE electronics such as lightweight printed cables, in-mould electronics-based dashboards, lighter OLED displays and printed antennas for communications between vehicle systems can remove up to 100 kgs of weight from the typical car. OLEDs and other FHE components also consume far less power than conventional lighting and electronics, reducing demands on the battery and potentially reducing battery weight.
But this growth opportunity extends far beyond automotive. intelliFLEX and many of its members have worked to align Canada’s FHE industry with the Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, approved earlier this month by Navdeep Bains, Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
If you want to learn about FHE applications, the market readiness of various FHE components and materials, and how the advantages of FHE are already being realized in manufacturing verticals like connected homes and intelligent buildings, packaging and consumer goods, and wearables and healthcare, come to Toronto in May.
On May 23 to 24, intelliFLEX, Canada’s not-for-profit industry alliance for FHE, hosts its annual conference and trade show exhibition, CPES2018. This is Canada’s single largest industry event. Here you can explore FHE in all its dimensions and network with potential suppliers, partners and customers to understand where and how you can expand your business in this exciting global market.
Leo Valiquette is Director of Programs, intelliFLEX Innovation Alliance.
Subscribers to Canada Makes receive a 20 per cent discount from the regular admission price for CPES2018. Use the code cpes18-cme and register at https://intelliflex.org/event/cpes2018-presented-by-intelliflex/ Chose the last option — CPES2018 – intelliFLEX Partner.
Check out this short visual overview of the FHE supply chain, to better understand how different segments of Canada’s technology sector fit.
Or learn more about how FHE impacts specific market verticals like Smart Packaging and Retail, Intelligent Buildings and Connected Homes, Aerospace and Defence, Automotive and Aerospace, Health and Wellness, Intelligent Documents and Wearables.