Challenges and Opportunities in the commercialization of flexible electronics

Arto Maaninen, Vice President, Co-operation, University of Oulu

The emerging activity in digitalisation of industries and  IoT world new hardware needs have been accelerating industrialisation initiatives of large area electronics.  Flexible printed hybrid electronics technologies are of emerging interest for new added value products and solutions for example in automotive,  wearables & wellness and  smart buildings. Flexible electronics and diagnostics enabling technology is very much based on fluid-processable organic, nanoparticulate and biomaterials, printing and embossing based large area fabrication processes, and functional electronic, optical, optoelectronic, microfluidic and biofunctional devices. Integration technologies are shown to bring printed components together to a system and hybrid integrated with ‘traditional’ chips like processor, driver circuit or LEDs on flexible foils as well as injection moulding based smooth 3D shaping and encapsulation technology.

Printocent innovation center was established to build open access capabilities  for industrialization and commercialization of Printed Intelligence. The focus in its first phase during years 2009 – 2012 was the Pilot Factory establishment for upscaling, and activation of start-up creation. In the second period 2013-2015 the building of the Industry cluster to push forward commercialization and industrial networking and at the running period 2016-2018 cluster activities are focusing on emerging business cases and solutions. The identified application areas include wearable products, rapid disposable diagnostic solutions and health patches, and smart flexible lighting and signage solutions, but not forgetting core technological developments in sensors, wireless connectivity, energy harvesting and storage, and flexible printed hybrid manufacturing technology.  And these technologies will be especially applied for IoT and industrial internet solutions, systems and future hyper-connected digital world services.  Examples of demonstrating products and solutions will be introduced.

Dr. Maaninen received his MSc and PhD degrees in chemistry from the University of Oulu, Finland in 1995 and 1999, respectively. He was a researcher and lecturer at the same university from 1995 until 2001. During 1998 he was a visiting scholar at the University of Calgary, Canada. University of Oulu nominated him as Adjunct Professor of Inorganic Chemistry 2004. From 2002 to late 2017, he was a Technology Manager of Printable Electronics and Optics knowledge centre; Vice President R&D, Microtechnologies and Sensors; Vice President Operations, Knowledge Intensive Products and Services, and Vice President Research, Knowledge Intensive Products and Services at VTT, Technology research centre of Finland. During 2010 and 2011 he was also a Research Professor of Printed Intelligence. He joined University of Oulu late 2017.  In his current position he is responsible of collaboration relations with universities, research organisations and companies at the university.


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