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Under Analysis: Fantastic Plastic Electronics

From low cost, highly efficient solar cells to intelligent packaging, plastic electronics hold the potential to produce a range of innovative new products.

Plastic Electronic Product

Plastic electronics, also known as printed or organic electronics, is a technology that enables circuits to be printed onto a range of surfaces. This technology is leading to the creation of a new generation of innovative products that can be produced more cheaply than previously possible.

The UK has the potential to be a world leader in plastic electronics – a market forecast to be worth billions by the end of the decade.

  • The potential for the manufacturing of plastic electronics is huge, with the global market forecast to rise from £1 billion today to £25 billion by 2020. (Source: UK Plastic Electronics Capability Guide.)
  • New plastic electronic products will include large area ultra-thin and ultra-efficient display and lighting panels; low-cost solar cells that can be integrated into buildings; and intelligent packaging that provides protection against counterfeiting or which responds to changes in products that have exceeded their shelf life. (Source: UK Plastic Electronics Capability Guide.)
  • The Centre for Process Innovation’s (CPI) National Printable Electronics Prototyping Centre based at Sedgefield, Durham, is focused on the British commercialisation and scale-up of printable plastic and organic electronics. (Source: UK Plastic Electronics.)
“Plastic electronics mean a wide range of consumer electronic devices can be developed, updated, or radically changed”
  • The CPI’s OLED/OPV prototyping line has been designed to enable the development and production of solid state lighting and organic photovoltaic devices. It features a high quality clean room environment for the manufacture of small molecule and solution-based polymers. (Source: UK Plastic Electronics.)
  • According to Imperial College London, plastic electronics means a wide range of consumer electronic devices can be developed, updated, or radically changed – from flat screen televisions and e-books to smart windows and printed circuit boards. (Source: Imperial College London.)
  • Emerging industries in organic photovoltaics and lighting have “enormous potential in the context of environmentally friendly low carbon electricity and energy efficiency”. (Source: Oxford University.)
  • The CPI was named as one of the Government’s network of manufacturing Catapult centres, focusing on processes, in 2011. The High Value Manufacturing Catapult, of which the CPI is a part, is celebrating five years of successful operation. The HVMC Catapult is a strategic initiative helping to revitalise UK manufacturing following the Hauser and Dyson reports. (Source: Centre for Process Innovation.)
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