August 29th, 2020
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It is integrated in sneakers and T-shirts, in vehicles, household appliances and many other everyday objects: Printed electronics is revolutionizing many industries because it is so lightweight, thin, flexible and robust that it can be discreetly integrated into virtually any object of any shape. “Printed electronics makes it possible to meet the growing demand for smart products with sophisticated additional electronic features—with a great deal of design freedom,” emphasizes Dr. Klaus Hecker, Managing Director of the industry association and LOPEC co-organizer OE-A (Organic and Printed Electronics Association).

For some years now, Hecker has also observed an increasing interest by various user industries in customizable manufacturing processes: “The goal is to produce customized smart products at competitive costs.” This year’s LOPEC picks up on this trend as printed electronics plays a key role in this area. “If the digital manufacturing technologies inkjet printing and laser processing are cleverly integrated into mass production environments, products can be individualized in-line,” explains Professor Reinhard Baumann of the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS: “As a result, unique items can be manufactured using mass production methods.” In his plenary lecture at the LOPEC Conference (March 26, 10:15), Baumann will illustrate this approach as well as the Fraunhofer project “Go Beyond 4.0”, which he coordinates. Researchers from six Fraunhofer Institutes are involved in this project, developing, for example, printed heating structures embedded in glass or carbon fiber reinforced plastics for aircraft construction as well as a smart car door with conductor paths, sensors, switches and light-emitting diodes, some of which are printed directly onto the car’s body parts. With this project, Fraunhofer will be taking part in the OE-A Competition and will also show first prototypes at the association’s booth.

Fraunhofer ENAS has been exhibiting at LOPEC since 2010 and describes it as the leading trade fair and most important conference for printed electronics and its applications. At this year’s LOPEC, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft will be represented by a total of 13 institutions. Its wide range of new developments includes printed solar cells as well as a roll-to-roll pilot line for the production of flexible hybrid electronics and new functional materials.

LOPEC (Large-area, Organic & Printed Electronics Convention) is the leading trade fair and the most important conference for the printed electronics industry. The event takes place at the high-tech location Munich. It is the leading global platform for the industry and provides guidance in every aspect of the industry, from application to research. It connects, inspires and puts ideas into practice. For today and tomorrow. This is the place where printed electronics come to life.

Printed electronics is a growing industry with a promising future. LOPEC’s success mirrors this development. The figures speak for themselves.

The opportunity to establish new business partnerships has long been one of the trade fair’s main focuses. LOPEC is the ideal place for this. 92 percent of exhibitors were very happy with the number and quality of new business contacts they made. No wonder: One of the aspects that makes LOPEC so appealing is that 85 percent of the visiting trade professionals are “decision-makers”.

As a trade fair that covers a cross-section of the industry, LOPEC showcases current trends, presents innovative products, highlights new market opportunities for the industry and helps foster the development of new materials, manufacturing technologies and applications. This exclusive business platform is geared towards all areas of the industry including all manufacturers or end-users of this cutting-edge technology.

Focus on materials and processes

Printing inks and pastes with electronic properties and flexible carrier materials that build a stable bond are the foundation of 3D structural electronics. Dr. Hongye Sun of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology will be presenting extremely stretchable silver-based inks at the LOPEC Conference. The concept is based on the so-called capillary suspension: A substance that does not mix with the main component of the printing ink builds bridges between the silver particles. In her presentation “3D printable and stretchable inks and their applications” which will be part of the session “Materials III—Metal Inks” (March 25, 16:00 to 16:20), Sun will illustrate the strategy.

About 35 material manufacturers—including Heraeus and Elantas from Germany, ACI Materials from the USA, GenesInk from France, DuPont from Great Britain and Panasonic from Japan—will present their new products in Munich. Another focus of LOPEC is on manufacturing processes. An alternative to direct printing of 3D parts is the thermoforming of 2D components printed on plastic. LOPEC exhibitor Adenso has developed a roll-to-roll printing technology with integrated forming process for the mass production of 3D electronics. In the Conference session “Upscaling and manufacturing processes” (March 26, 14:00 to 14:20), Adenso Managing Director Uwe Beier will take a closer look at the forming of printed electronics. Exhibitor watttron, in turn, will show a special heating system for thermoforming: It is based on many small heating pixels arranged in a matrix the temperature of which can be individually programmed and controlled. Markus Stein, CEO of the company, will discuss this during the session “3D Structural Electronics” (March 25, 14:20 to 14:40).

In addition to thermoforming, injection molding is particularly suitable for the production of 3D structural electronics. In the LOPEC Short Course “IMSE technology for smart molded structures” (March 24, 09:30 to 11:50), Dr. Pälvi Apilo and Dr. Outi Rusanen from the Finnish company TactoTek will speak about the potential of the injection molding technology IMSE (Injection Molded Structural Electronics). This technology enables the integration of printed circuits and other electronic components in 3D parts. The LOPEC Short Courses serve to introduce special fields of printed electronics and are traditionally held on the first day of the Conference. This year, they will focus on topics including printed biosensors, Perovskite solar cells and textile electronics.

“The materials and techniques best suited for the production of 3D structural electronics are dependent on the respective application,” emphasizes Hecker. “As LOPEC covers the entire value chain of printed electronics and various user industries, we offer interested visitors from all industries comprehensive support for their decision-making.” Moreover, LOPEC likes to be considered as a bridge between science and application. Being a combination of international exhibition and conference, LOPEC makes it easy for all players to get in touch with each other and to further advance printed electronics.



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