Printed electronics: from LEDs to beauty masks



The 7th LOPEC, the International Exhibition and Conference for Printed Electronics, opens its gates at the Messe München trade fair center from March 3–5, where companies and research organizations from around the world will demonstrate that printed electronic components are making their way into a number of different sectors.


The exhibition at this year's LOPEC focuses on two branches of industry, i.e. smart packaging and automotive. "User industries place various demands on printed electronic products. Electronic components that are developed for the automotive industry must be especially durable and reliable, whereas the packaging sector tends to focus on the cost of production," explains Dr. Klaus Hecker, Managing Director of the OE-A (Organic and Printed Electronics Association).


Anyone who wants to make their products' packaging interactive will get some good ideas from many of the exhibitors at LOPEC. For example, the Norwegian company Thin Film Electronics in Oslo will present an innovation for trademark protection in Munich—i.e. electronic product labels that store data and are rewritable. The technique used to print the labels is cost effective and easy to integrate into established production processes. It can be used to protect pharmaceutical blister packs from counterfeiting. Thin Film Electronics has also developed paper-thin temperature sensors for packaging fresh foods and other spoilable products. Information about location, storage temperature and time can be called up on a smartphone. The smart label is also available with an integrated temperature display or visual signal if the temperature is too low or too high.


Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) are making their way into the automotive sector. Unlike LEDs, which are already being integrated into automobile lights, instead of dots, OLEDs emit light from an entire surface. As a result, they give designers unimagined possibilities when designing car interiors and outer lights. German company Cynora in Bruchsal is considered a pioneer for its new OLED technology that does without expensive precious metals such as platinum and iridium and makes cost-effective printing techniques possible. OLEDs produced this way are also more energy efficient, light intensive and lightweight. Cynora recently received the German Raw Material Efficiency Award. At LOPEC, the company is presenting a range of color emitter materials and OLED demonstrators.


Transparent conductive films from PolyIC in Fürth, Germany have a promising future in the automotive industry. They can be used to implement touch displays for navigation systems and controls for air conditioners, power windows and more. Thanks to their flexibility, displays of this type can be integrated into curved shapes. Conductive films from PolyIC are also suitable for touchscreens on household appliances. The company is also presenting new products for consumer electronics and mobile devices.


Research organizations will also be represented at LOPEC. The highlights at the stand of the Finnish Think Tank VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland include decorative organic solar cells that can be printed on transparent films in any shape. They are only a fifth of a millimeter thin and can be placed on window panes, walls and many other surfaces. Also at the VTT stand: a carbon dioxide sensor coupled to a smartphone and a one-way beauty mask that uses a slight electric current to improve the penetration of cosmetic ingredients into the skin.


The American company GSI Technologies from Burr Ridge, Illinois, is also bringing a wide range of products to LOPEC. They include thin heating elements for therapeutic and other applications, diagnostic test strips with integrated electrodes and electroluminescent films for portable devices.


As in previous years, LOPEC 2015 will depict the entire value chain, covering everything from research to manufacturing. Companies that want to integrate printed electronic components into their products will find perfect partners at LOPEC. KROENERT, located in Hamburg, Germany, that specializes in coating, printing and laminating machines, will present its versatile LabCo system at the exhibition in Munich. It has a working width of up to 500 mm and is ideal for manufacturing small series of printed electronics and organic photovoltaics. All production parameters can easily be transferred to larger KROENERT systems. Hoffmann+Krippner from Buchen (Odenwald) will also be presenting itself as a potential development and production partner at LOPEC. The company has more than 35 years of experience printing circuits with conductive pastes.