LOPEC 2016, the International Exhibition and Conference for the Printed Electronics Industry, will open its doors in Munich between April 5 and 7. Highlights will include smart labels, printed sensors and glass on roll as a substrate material.
Printing processes are becoming increasingly popular in the production of smart electronic components: “With annual growth rates of around 20 percent, printed and organic electronics truly are a market of the future,” says Dr Klaus Hecker, Managing Director of the OE-A (Organic and Printed Electronics Association), who works together with Messe München to organize LOPEC. “LOPEC represents the entire value chain and showcases new systems and printing materials as well as printed electronics components which were mere concepts just a few years ago and are now already finding their way into our everyday lives.”
Norwegian company Thin Film Electronics ASA will be in Munich to showcase their printed NFC tags, which connect various products to the digital world, and even to the Cloud, thereby paving the way for the Internet of Things. The tags use near field communication (NFC) to send information to smartphones and other mobile devices.
The British Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) also works in the field of “smart packaging”. CPI will present their breathalyser for diabetics at LOPEC this year. Their device is built around a printed sensor that determines blood sugar levels by analyzing the user's breath. CPI will also showcase new printing technologies, including a two-stage process—Inkjet Flex—that allows users to print copper structures as fine as 125 mm onto PET film.
Also attending LOPEC will be American plant manufacturers NovaCentrix and Nordson: both key drivers within the industry. NovaCentrix will be showcasing its PulseForge systems, which sinter metallic inks on paper or plastic using light rather than heat. Nordson's multi-layer slot die technology, meanwhile, is engineered to allow the application of multiple coatings—up to 0.1 micrometre thin—in one pass. Application speeds of over 900 metres per minute can be achieved, depending on the process.
Material manufacturers who will be showcasing new products at LOPEC include: Merck, who will be launching a package of printable organic semiconductor and dielectric materials; BASF, who will be presenting inks for electronic switches that can be customized and are suitable for printing and coating processes at temperatures below 100°C; and Schott, the specialist glass manufacturer. Schott's visitors will be treated to a glimpse of a sensational new product: rollable glass as a substrate material for printed electronics. This glass is 25 micrometres in thickness and, unlike currently available plastics, is thermally stable and impervious to gases and water vapor.
These, and many other new products, are set to take printed electronics to the next level. “LOPEC gives a comprehensive overview of the industry for all stakeholders. We are particularly pleased to have so many new exhibitors attending the event and to see such high levels of participation from other countries,” emphasizes Falk Senger, Managing Director of Messe München. The organizers are expecting over 140 exhibitors, 30 percent of which will be exhibiting for the first time. Around half of the exhibitors will be coming from outside of Germany, with the USA, Japan, and the UK best represented. Companies will, however, also be making their way from Brazil, India, Israel, and Norway, to name a few.