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Advanced Technologies for Industry

Product Watch report: “Flexible and printed electronics”

In April 2021, the Advanced Technology for Industry (ATI) project published its Product Watch report titled “Flexible and printed electronics”. The objective of this report is to get an overview of the EU flexible and printed electronics industrial actors, their interactions in the value chain, and to identify their strengths and weaknesses by:

  1. Providing an overview of the industry;
  2. An in-depth analysis into the value chain structure, its key actors and the linkages between the various stakeholders;
  3. Relevant European stakeholders, along with their corresponding strengths and weaknesses in relation to global competition; 
  4. Outlook and the impact of COVID-19 on flexible and printed electronics.

The most important characteristic of flexible electronics is that they are bendable. The electronics are manufactured on materials such as paper, textile, or flexible plastic substrates. Printed electronics is often seen as a part of flexible electronics. It refers to electronics created by printing on various (flexible) substrates.

Flexible electronics can be applied in various sectors. One example is Healthcare, applications include skin patches, test strips and smart packaging. The demand for such flexible devices has been increasing rapidly. Three characteristics that make them interesting for the end-users are portability, personalisation, and product paradigm.

The EU has world-renowned expertise in terms of research and development and industrial capabilities in the field of flexible and printed electronics. However, the industry is growing slowly due to the high cost and strong competition from standard electronics. The success will ultimately be determined by the ability to differentiate the European offerings in terms of added value, quality and specific application areas.

The Product Watch reports analyse novel products that are based on advanced technologies for the development of goods and services - enhancing their overall commercial and social value. For more information about this report and other Product Watch reports written by the ATI project, consult the dedicated section on the ATI website.