Automation News

Stretchable electronics – no longer just a solution looking for a problem

19 May , 2017  

The electronic industry is in the midst of a major paradigm shift: novel form factors are emerging, ranging from the introduction of limited “stretchability”, through to ultra-elastic and conformable electronics. This transfiguration has been in the making for more than a decade now, but it is only now that it is beginning to make a substantial commercial impact.

The IDTechEx Research report, Stretchable Electronics 2017-2027, predicts that stretchable electronics will become a $600m market by 2027. This shift goes beyond the traditional incremental technology development along well-established industry lines. Instead, it seeks to create new functions, new applications, and new users. As such, this technology frontier currently only has vague figures-of-merit and limited insight on customer needs.

Many opponents have long argued that this entire class of emerging materials/components is a classic case of technology-push – a solution looking for a problem. This view may have been justified in the early days, but we now see this trend as an essential step towards structural electronics. This is a major long-term shift that will lead to a root-and-branch change of the electronic industry.

Stretchable and conformable electronics includes basic and comparatively more mature technologies such as inks, transparent conductive films, and sensors, but also more complex devices such as transistors, batteries, energy harvesters and displays.


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