PCB007 Magazine

PCB-Jan2014

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the way i see it Column Printed Electronics Update by Ray Rasmussen I-Connect007 At IDtechEx this year in Santa Clara, California, I heard something for the first time: Several presenters said that they had replaced their PCBs with printed electronics. One of them was Multek (Flextronics). When people talk about PE opportunities, they almost always focus on new markets and how PE is an enabling technology that allows electronics to be added to just about any product out there. In fact, there are some who suggest that it's possible to connect over a trillion products through the use of PE technologies, when they talk about The Internet of Things. It's really astounding. Flextronics/Multek gave an interesting presentation about their efforts in PE. They're moving quite quickly into materials, thanks to their acquisition of Sheldahl and their flex materials. And as I mentioned, they are already replacing PCBs with PE circuits. PE for EMS A few years ago, I invited Matt Timm, CEO of Soligie, to keynote an IPC conference on printed electronics that I was emceeing. Soligie is a PE contract manufacturer: EMS for the PE industry. 8 The PCB Magazine • January 2014 I had invited him to talk about the current status and prospects for the future. Timm spent a lot of time talking about the hype curve and how the industry was starting to come down the backside of the curve, which was the more realistic state of the industry. Still exciting, but the reality was that PE technologies were going to take longer than the pundits had been espousing. He was in the trenches and had a good perspective on things. Something he said to me offline, which I found quite interesting, was that his biggest concern with our industry was the giant EMS providers like Flextronics who, when they figured out the opportunity, would eat his lunch. Well, I think they're starting to do just that. It's still a specialty market for them but it's going to grow really fast. They already have the customers. Now, they just need to match the PE product with the right customer and application. The customers want it. On the EMS side, the opportunities are almost endless. They do everything needed for PE in-house, on their own, wherever the customer is located. They can mix and match conventional technologies with emerging PE options when and where needed. They're in a great position to dominate this market in fairly short order.

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