LOPEC 2020 offers in-depth insights by further focusing on industries which currently play a crucial role in the world of printed electronics.
Smart Living: With this focus topic, LOPEC is demonstrating the enormous range of how products and applications of printed electronics will make our everyday lives easier, smarter and more environmentally friendly in the future. For example in the form of fitness trackers, smart textiles, smart pharmaceutical packaging, adhesive solar films or steplessly dimmable windows.
Within the broad field of medicine and clinics to health promotion to sports and leisure alone, printed electronics solutions open up completely new perspectives. A good example here is the measuring and monitoring of body functions: Ultra-flat and extremely flexible body sensors, which communicate via radio, enable a much broader and simpler collection of important data and parameters—whether to improve performance during sports or to monitor values such as heartbeat and body temperature in hospitals.
In the form of so-called wearables, textiles with integrated sensors are increasingly being used, for example for around-the-clock monitoring of patients or as textile all-in-one solutions in sports. Supplemented by a sewn-in flexible display, wearables can also complement or even eliminate terminal devices for reading out data.
In future, smart pharmaceutical packaging will be equipped with printed electronic labels. These, for example, wirelessly provide information about the individual ingredients of the drug, its shelf life or whether the cooling temperature has been reliably maintained. Other packaging connects via Bluetooth to the patient's smartphone to assist with regular tablet intake.
Moreover, printed electronics opens up new perspectives in energy harvesting: Small, printed OPV cells to provide energy for autonomous smart devices, generated by daylight or room lighting.
On a larger scale, printed and transparent solar films (also called building integrated organic photovoltaics, or in short BIOPV), which in the building are glued between the exterior and interior windows, produce electricity; at the same time, they act as shading.
Self-dimming windows with electrochromic or liquid crystalline functional layers allow stepless switching from full incidence of light and maximum transparency to strong darkening and opacity.
And even floors and walls will become “smart” in the future: Large-area, ultra-flat pressure sensors in the floor, for example, will make it possible to automatically establish the number of people in a room; wall sensors will determine the moisture content in the concrete. Thanks to wireless connection to the building technology via NFC or RFID technology, functionalities such as heating or ventilation can be precisely controlled.
Especially in the automotive and aviation industries, printed electronic components open up a multitude of opportunities and possibilities. Summarized under the focus topic Mobility, LOPEC showcases the current state of the art and provides exciting outlooks.
From sensors in passenger seats to electrochromic windows to ultra-flat touch screens in the cockpit: Numerous applications of printed electronics are already being used in the field of mobility or will soon be ready for series production. At the same time, 3D-structural electronics solutions already define the next level.
For example, printed heating elements will continue to gain in importance as electric cars become more widespread. Since electric motors produce significantly less waste heat to be used for heating than gasoline and diesel aggregates, printed, super-flat heating elements will in future ensure pleasant temperatures inside the vehicle, for example in seats and behind door and side panels.
Another application of printed electronics in the mobility sector are windows and mirrors that change their tinting steplessly at the touch of a button or through automatic control. This is ensured by an electrochromic layer printed on the back of the mirror or between the two flat glass panes. Depending on the voltage, it changes its permeability.
Interior and exterior mirrors in the car can thus be dimmed automatically as soon as they are hit by glaring light from other vehicles. For the windows, the driver determines the desired degree of tinting at the touch of a button. There are even first airplanes already today where passengers can adjust the tinting of their windows from transparent to jet-black.
Printed electronics in cockpits enable flexible touchscreens. For example, they can be integrated into curved surfaces opening up completely new perspectives for vehicle interior design. The direct combination of design and electronic functionality through 3D-structural electronics or in-mold electronics facilitates particularly innovative human-machine-interfaces, at the same time reducing weight and the number of components required. Whereas, in the past, the time-consuming assembly of entire component groups was required, today it is sufficient to snap a single lightweight component into place.
In other respects, too, restrictions in design, functionality and feel are virtually a thing of the past. This allows, for example, mechanical switches to be replaced by tactile buttons with haptic feedback. This in turn enables exciting day-night designs as well as seamless surfaces with a high-quality look and feel.
Luminaires with organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs for short, will increasingly be seen on the outside of vehicles. In the future, they will be printed on film, making them highly flexible and easily adaptable to curved shapes.