The Future of Flexible Electronics: How Can They Improve Processes?

2020-12-21 09:48 - Mades

In the movie The Graduate of the late 60s, the most exciting career for any young person then was along the line of “plastics”. Now, switch focus to today when advice would revolve around something like organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). Scientific research has historically been focused on the best materials to suit end-user needs. We can now imagine of a mobile phone that can fit into the wallet or the opportunity to generate solar power from any surface. That’s through the capabilities presented by flexible electronics, also called flex circuits. Can this technology add value to processes in future?

Applicability of Flexible Electronics

Flexible electronics are unique because they can mount onto conformable or stretchable substrates. This technology was highly developed over several decades, but it has only gained traction and attention in recent times. It is popular for its flexibility, portability, customization and affordability. It is unsurprising then that smart technology industries, automotive companies, advertising firms and biometric researchers are fond of this innovative technology.

The healthcare and wellness industry is already taking advantage with wearable technology. These smart devices can safeguard health by monitoring sleep patterns, heartbeat, number of steps and so forth. Stretchable sensors are also helping in providing crucial information to the doctor.

flexible-electronics-wearable-fitness-trackers

Wearable Fitness Trackers (source)

In the automotive industry, structural electronics support ingenious safety features. “Smart skins” around the car are sensitive to touch, and therefore they increase safety.

Flexible electronics also help improve 5G coverage, through conductive inks.

Based on these achievements and ongoing research & development, we can all agree that the technology will continue to improve processes in future.

Bright Future for the Technology

Whichever industry you are in, it pays to know how this technology can impact various processes in future. With so many industries getting interested, maybe it is the perfect time to start planning accordingly.

The medical field is definitely an interested party. Consider the electronic skin, which comprises of organic circuits within a plastic film. Anyone wearing this device can detect important data such as temperature and oxygen concentration. It may also be possible to track UV radiation too.

That curved photovoltaic panels could soon hit the market is an interesting prospect for the renewable energy sector. PV electricity generation process is currently mostly dependent on bulky rigid solar modules. With Building-Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV), surfaces, siding, shingles and other components of the building could contribute in energy generation. Since flexible panels are light, there is no need of strengthening the structure before installation.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are also looking at a more profitable future if the application of flexible electronic technology in their processes succeeds. The idea that intricate electronic components can be printed out instead of the current treacherous process can be a game changer. Manufacturers invest heavily for the conventional liquid crystal display plants, but roll-to-roll method is more affordable.

Conclusion

Isn’t it good to have a flexible future? What was once merely a science project is now on the verge of being the answer to technological end user demands. The electronics industry is at the center of the demand for improved processes in health, manufacturing, energy and other market segments. Flex circuits offer limitless potential for future projects, but in the meantime, challenges around printing quality, electrical stability and so forth must be ironed out. MADES has been evolving with the market and user needs for decades manufacturing implantable devices or thermal cameras amongst other products with complex technological requirements. We are convinced our experienced electronic services will be of utmost value in your next project.as we brace for an exciting future.

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