Bridging the competence gap: Flexible Hybrid Electronics

M. Dyson, K. Ghaffarzadeh
United Kingdom

Keywords: Flexible, Hybrid, Printed, Electronics, RFID, smart packaging, wearable technology


Printed/flexible electronics has long been touted as an enabling technology for low-cost, widespread integration of electronic functionality into everyday life, but to date has limited adoption outside displays and RFID tags. This is largely due to the capability and low cost of conventional electronics, making printed alternatives a poor relation. A rapidly developing strategy to bridging this performance gap is to abandon rigid printability or material constraints, and instead take the best of both worlds. Termed flexible hybrid electronics (FHE), this approach combines the processing capability of etched integrated circuits with the light weight and flexibility of printed electronics. The combination of attributes that FHE enables has myriad applications, ranging from smart packaging to wearable healthcare monitoring, and is projected to develop rapidly. Furthermore, FHE brings specific technological requirements, such as the ability to attach conventional substrates to low cost flexible substrates or to make flexible integrated circuits, which in turn foster innovation into new materials and processing techniques. Based on extensive discussions with suppliers, institutions and end users around the world, we will address the following questions: 1. What are the main applications for FHE, and how are they projected to grow? 2. What are the barriers, both technological and commercial, that need to be overcome for FHE to be widely adopted? 3. What opportunities will widespread adoption of FHE generate throughout the value chain? Such insight and projections should be valuable to a wide range of suppliers and innovators who wish to engage with this rapidly developing sector of the electronics industry.