Final report from LOPEC 2015: printed electronics are part of our everyday lives



After three days, LOPEC, the International Exhibition and Conference for Printed Electronics, saw another increase in attendance and ended on Thursday. It was a complete success: From March 3 to 5, more than 2,300 visitors from 42 countries came to the ICM – Internationales Congress Center München. That corresponds to an increase of round ten percent. Several applications in the automotive, smart packaging and wearables sectors clearly demonstrated how advanced the use of printed electronics already is.


Dr. Stephan Kirchmeyer, Chairman of the OE-A (Organic and Printed Electronics Association) and Head of Marketing at Heraeus, said it in a nutshell: "Starting now, we can talk about concrete business transactions. The industry has taken another step from research and individual applications to being its own industry." Several of the products at the exhibition such as an OLED-TV, interactive packaging and printed car-seat heaters have made that clear.


LOPEC covers the entire value chain in printed electronics. The exhibition showcased everything, from research, material manufacturers and production techniques to actual products. Wolfgang Mildner, General Chair of LOPEC and Owner of MSW, made a point of emphasizing the diversity of the exhibits: "We have seen more products than ever before at this year's exhibition." Besides the automotive industry, smart packaging and wearables were also important topics. The exhibition also featured actual applications such as smart blister packaging and a T-shirt that measures the wearer's heart rate. "Wearables is a topic that will be with us well into the future," said Mildner.


Falk Senger, Managing Director of Messe München GmbH, was also positive in his assessment of the fair: "These constant increases in attendance are a clear indication of how dynamic this industry actually is. And a clear indication that LOPEC's exhibition concept is exactly where it needs to be."


More than 50 percent of the over 2,300 visitors were from abroad. After Germany, the top five countries were Great Britain, Japan, the United States, the Netherlands and France followed by Korea. When it comes to the international character of this event, Senger is convinced that "LOPEC has proved yet again that it is the most important platform for printed electronics in the world." Two-thirds of all participants felt that LOPEC's importance is likely to increase even more during the next twelve months.


According to an independent survey by forschungplus research institute, 95 percent of participants gave the international character of the exhibitors a rating of good to excellent. For the first time ever, companies from Israel, Canada and Lithuania were also represented. National pavilions from France and Japan and a large contingent of exhibitors from the United States confirmed LOPEC's significance to the global industry for printed electronics.


A total of 199 presentations were made at the conference. In his presentation, Kai Hohmann, Principal Technical Expert Automotive Displays, Continental Automotive GmbH, made one thing clear. "Continental has already integrated printed electronics into automobiles in the form of touch sensors. Thanks to new OLED display films, curved display applications in motor vehicles will also be possible in the future. At that point, the use of transparent touch screens is merely a matter of time."


Besides first-rate presentations, above all it is the lively exchange that is essential for the transfer of know-how. Close collaboration at the international level is the only way to ensure that experiences in different markets and with different technologies can lead to the development of increasingly concrete applications. Topics of discussion included everything from material innovations to potential applications in consumer electronics, lighting and healthcare as well as strategies for product marketability.


At the Demo Line, electroluminescent films the size of a credit card were produced on a complete assembly line. A total of 16 companies demonstrated the entire manufacturing process for printed electronics on machines in actual operation. As Thomas Kolbusch, LOPEC Exhibition Chair and Vice President of Coatema Coating Machinery GmbH, pointed out: "You won't see that at any other exhibition!"


The event was rounded out by an extensive program of related events. Besides introductory events, for the first time ever sector-specific guided tours were held on the topics of smart packaging and automotive. The Innovation Showcase featured a number of exhibits including curved displays from Continental, a flexible OLED smartphone from LG, OLED taillights for cars from OSRAM, a luminescent book box and an interactive leather jacket. The first roundtable discussion titled "Possibilities, challenges and market potential for organic and printed electronics in Europe" also met with a great deal of interest.


The next LOPEC takes place at the ICM – Internationales Congress Center München from April 5 to 7, 2016.