Will disposable printed electronics become the future of packaging?
It is not smartphones and autonomous vehicles that integrate electronic products into their daily lives. Even our one-off products, especially packaging, can be high-tech, and silicon-free printed electronics may become a future trend.
Use prints to change product design and manufacturing
Printed electronics has repeatedly published news in the past year. They provide the electronics industry with something that has been used by semiconductor manufacturers in the past: fully customizable circuits with custom components.
At present, typical circuit boards are produced as follows: First, design and print circuit boards. When the PCB is ready for installation, the parts are ordered from the distributor and placed on the PCB by hand or by machine. Once the part is in place, the PCB (with the component) is then sent to the final product (unless the PCB itself is the final product).
If design changes are required during this process, the engineer may need to make some redesigns (sometimes the overall PCB), change the component list, and then change the entire production line to account for this change. The time it takes to make changes can cost the company's money and resources, with a typical PCB lead time of 7 days. These seven days were converted into seven days of discontinuation, so there was no sale for seven days.
This is where printed electronics really comes into play. Imagine that the circuit has been designed and needs to be prototyped. The print design is not to send the PCB manufacturing and then manually construct the unit, but to send it to the 3D printer and generate the functional circuit (with all connections) within a few hours. The final product is also made from printed electronics, which can be produced in a few hours with a few intermediate steps and is independent of the parts dealer. If design changes are required, they can be easily implemented by transporting the new design to the manufacturer, and new circuit changes on the production line can be made immediately.
Printed electronics may have another potential use that silicon may never match: trillions of mass production.
Silicon problem
Silicon can create a variety of circuits from power control to high-end computer processing. Over the past 50 years, silicon has met the industry's needs by providing better equipment every year. While semiconductor device power is slowly approaching its limits, the industry has not yet seen one aspect of semiconductor devices. Currently, approximately 20 billion microcontrollers are produced, which is sufficient for applications such as computing, IoT devices and other devices. However, if you want to integrate electronics into all products, including the packaging of goods in the store, 20 billion devices will not cut it.