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IPC's First Effort in Printed Electronics: A Great Start
Tuesday, February 08, 2011 | Ray Rasmussen, I-Connect007

Last month, IPC hosted its first conference on printed electronics (PE) in Irvine, California. This first-of-its-kind conference was an unexpected success, bringing together a broad cross-section of OEMs, board fabs and material suppliers to learn how this potentially disruptive technology might affect our industry. Many in the audience seemed pleasantly surprised by the content and the conclusions.

We heard from OEMs, PE companies, PCB fabricators, PCB suppliers as well as pure researchers. Surprisingly, the European contingent of PCB fabricators almost exceeded that of the US, with AT&S, Dyconex, Invotec Circuits and Meadville Aspocomp in attendance. The U.S. was represented by TTM, DDI, Endicott Interconnect Technologies, Sunstone Circuits, Innovative Circuits and Ibiden (U.S.).

The PCB is Safe for Now

Whew!  That’s good news. Maybe Dr. Hayao Nakahara was right. It looks like he won’t be rolling a peanut with his nose from San Francisco to New York any time soon.

U.S. Taking the Lead?

Some of the Europeans present seemed quite surprised to see the first conference on this topic being hosted by the U.S. industry. Europe has a considerable lead in PE technologies and would have been the likely place to launch a conference like this. Chalk one up for the Yanks!

A PE Keynote

Matt Timm set the tone for a very informative two days of presentations and discussions. Timm is President of Soligie, a PE contract manufacturer based in Minnesota.

PE is not a product, but rather an enabler, as Timm points out. It’s opening doors to new markets. And what makes PE really attractive today is its ability to cover a wide area, like a wall or a billboard sign. That aspect is getting PE a lot of attention.

Timm also showed the chart below from Gartner called “The Hype Cycle of Innovation” which was referred to over and over again by subsequent speakers and during break conversations. If you look at the chart, the PE industry seems to be sliding down the Negative Hype part of the curve moving into the Trough of Disillusionment. Next is the Slope of Enlightenment and then the Plateau of Productivity. Seems like just about the right time for our industry to get involved.


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