Plastic electronics, based on conductive polymers and flexible substrates, will change the face of electronics, according to a new report from NanoMarkets. The report forecasts the worldwide plastic electronics market to grow to $5.8 billion in 2009, and reach $23.5 billion by 2012.
In 2009, NanoMarkets expects that displays will account for 46 percent of the plastic electronics market and that memory will account for 38 percent. By 2012 the markets for logic/processors, flexible solar panels and sensors will all be measured in the billions of dollars.
In 2009, 37 percent of plastic electronics products will come from the mobile phone sector, but by 2012, plastic electronics will make its impact felt in numerous other segments.
Plastic electronics will enable the creation and production of roll-up displays to be used with computers and mobile phones, flexible solar panels that can be laminated to walls and ceilings or used to power portable equipment and ultra-low-cost RFID tags that will completely replace bar codes in retail outlets. None of these could ever be built using standard CMOS technology.
Electronics built on conductive polymers and flexible substrates offer some compelling advantages over CMOS platforms given their low-costs, reduced power consumption and flexibility. They can be printed using techniques similar to those of ink jet printing or rubber stamping which would reduce the need for building giant fabs.
This in itself makes plastic electronics a serious interest point for the industry as the ability to produce circuits without significant capex or being forced to recoup costs through high-output manufacturing means that the chip companies would be able to capitalise on market opportunities previously unavailable to them.