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42 The PCB Magazine • September 2014 f e a t u r e Although printing techniques such as screen-printing have long been used to pro- duce portions of an electronic system, such as conductive traces, solder masks, or component silk screens on a circuit board, the term printed electronics (PE) generally refers to more recent developments where common low-cost graph- ics printing technologies are applied to the pro- duction of the various elements of an electronic end-product. These include gravure, flexogra- phy, ink jet, aerosol jet, etc. While traditional electronic products are the current beneficiaries of PE, a new generation of smart devices with integrated sensors and an- tennas enabling the Internet of Things hold even greater potential for widespread adoption. For example, printed strain gauges that con- form to the critical surface areas will measure stresses and initiate corrective action before catastrophic failure. This new generation of in- telligent devices will require new manufactur- ing methods that can closely couple electronics onto mechanical structures. Evolution of PE In its original vision, PE presumed that the entirety of fairly complex end-products (e.g., solar cell, display, smart card, etc.) would be produced solely with printing technologies. But in reality commercial success to date has been limited to fairly simple, and in some cases novelty, products (e.g., greeting cards, signage, RFID, etc.). This has caused some suppliers to take a more pragmatic view and leverage the benefits of printed electronics initially as a point solu- tion that can add value to existing manufactur- by Ken Vartanian optomeC Aerosol Jet Technology for Production Grade/Scale Printed Electronics

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