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10 SMT Magazine • January 2015 which he'll need on his journey to the West Coast. Kneepads would also be recommended. But there's a lot more going on, which is why I believe that major change for our industry is on the horizon. What many people miss is that it's not printed electronics that's driving this change. Companies aren't going to replace a PCB with PE, but they are going to redesign their products in ways which, in part, are enabled by printed electronics. There's a lot more energy going into the end products, of which PE is only a part of the story, as you'll see. PE is one of the en- ablers but it's not going to drive the market. It's the market that's driving printed electronics. I think that is what people don't understand. They tend to look at printed electronics as a di- rect replacement to the PCB, and scoff. It is the markets that printed electronics enables, which will drive its development. And each year, as PE becomes more capable, more companies will choose PE and all it enables over static PCBs. Keep reading. These new markets will drive the PE in- dustry forward at an ever-increasing rate. The capabilities of the technology will advance faster than that of traditional PCBs and therefore, seemingly overnight, blow by the PCB industry. PE will not likely ever be in direct compe- tition with PCBs. Once OEMs start using PE solutions (inter- connects) and structural elec- tronics (see below) to build their products, game over. The Drivers: the Electronification of all Things Over the last few years, the IDTechEx show has been ex- panding with some complimen- tary offerings on topics that in- clude: 3D printing; energy har- vesting and storage; internet of things (IoT); wearable technolo- gy; and super capacitors. To get a sense of these emerging tech- nologies you should make the trek to one of these conferences. Spend a couple days listening to the speakers and walking the show floor. There's a lot going on. If the poten- tial of PE wasn't real, this show would have died out years ago. Instead, hundreds of Silicon Val- ley engineers attend the courses, talk to exhibi- tors, and network with their peers. And glob- ally, there are dozens of shows and conferences from major industry groups addressing these topics. What's happening is definitely for real. By looking at these additional offerings from the conference, you can start to see where printed electronics is headed. There's a monster industry developing. And, what has started out slow, focused on low-cost products, will quickly jump into all markets, making just about every- thing you can think of smarter. And looking at PCBs, the PE technologies for making circuits are getting really good. Very, very fine lines are producible in high volume using many differ- ent techniques. The paper companies talk about PE using thermal paper, roll to roll. Printing presses are now producing multilayer circuits (as predicted) on the fly, printing conductors and insulators back to back. Inkjet printers are THE TIPPInG POInT continues the way i see it Figure 1: Gartner's hype Cycle. (Source: Gartner Research)

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