Printed electronics are being vouched as the next best thing in Internet of Things (IoT), the technology that is rightly regarded as a boon of advancing technology. Silicon-based sensors are the first that have been associated with IoT technology. These sensors have numerous applications, such as track data from airplane, wind turbines, engines, and medical devices, amongst other internet connected devices.
However, these silicon-based are not suitable for several other applications. Bendable packaging and premium items are some of the application where embedded sensors do not work. For such applications, printed electronics befit the need. Using sensor technology, information is transferred on smart labels that can be attached to packages to be tracked in real time.
Some Applications of Printed Sensor Technology
Grocery Industry: While bar code is the standard technology used in the grocery sector, the technology has limitations pertaining to the data it can store. Also, for some products, product packaging can run up to 30-40% of the cost, for which printed sensor are best-suited to save packaging costs. For such needs, a printed sensor is the most apt solution for real-time information about a product’s temperature, moisture, location, movement, and much more. Companies can check these parameters to validate the freshness and prevent substantial spoilage. Smart labels are also used to validate the authenticity of products.
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Healthcare: The use of smart labels enables manufacturers and logistics firms to track the usage and disposal of pharmaceuticals and to control inventory. The use of smart labels on patients’ clothing enables to check their body temperature, dampness of adult diapers, or bandages for assisted living scenarios.
Logistics: Radio frequency identification (RFID) was the standard tag used by logistics companies until recently to identify shipping crates that carried perishable products. RFID is increasingly being replaced by smart labels that enable tracking of individual items. This facilitates companies to track products at the item level rather than at the container shipping level.
Biosensors Lead Printed and Flexible Sensors Market
As per the research study, the global market for printed and flexible sensors is estimated to grow at a fast pace, due to which several investors are interested in pouring funds into the market. This is expected to create potential opportunities for commercialization and product innovation. In addition, several new players are also projected to participate in order to gain a competitive advantage in the market. In 2013, the global printed and flexible sensors market stood at US$6.28 bn and is projected to be worth US$7.51 bn by the end of 2020. The market is expected to register a healthy 2.50% CAGR between 2012 and 2020, as per the study.
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The rapid growth in individual application segments and several benefits over the conventional sensors are some of the key factors driving the global market for printed and flexible sensors. In addition, the developing global market for Internet of Things is further anticipated to fuel the growth of the market in the next few years. On the flip side, several challenges in conductive ink printing are estimated to hamper the growth of the market for printed and flexible sensors in the near future.
Biosensors are most extensively used with the largest market share in the global market for printed and flexible sensors. Glucose strips incorporated with a biosensor are one of the most sought after ways to track and monitor glucose levels among diabetics. Thus, it accounts as a multi-billion dollar segment in the global market for printed and flexible sensors. To evaluate and monitor working of the heart, kidney diseases, and cancer are the other emerging applications where printed biosensors technology is being utilized.
The expanding automobile industry holds promise for piezoelectric type printed flexible sensors for performance testing during production. Due to these varied applications of printed and flexible sensors, the global market for printed and flexible sensors will expand at a slow but steady 2.5% CAGR in the next six years starting from 2012.