Large Area Flexible Electronics Roadmap-- SEMI Member Input Needed


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Large Area Flexible Electronics Roadmap— SEMI Member Input Needed

While waiting for a breakthrough application (flexible displays, PV, lighting, RFID) and commercial success, flexible and large area electronics remain one of the most promising emerging markets for equipment and materials suppliers in the next 3 to 5 years. To accelerate industry growth and reduce costs for the supply chain, the International Electronic Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) began a technology roadmap effort in 2006 with the establishment of the Large Area Flexible Electronics Technical Working Group (TWG). The result of the effort was the publication of the iNEMI Organic & Printed Electronics Roadmap in 2007, updated and renamed in 2009 to reflect the growth in international interest and excitement surrounding this emerging market.

SEMI Member Input Needed

To receive greater input from equipment and materials suppliers, the Large Area, Flexible Electronics Roadmap TWG of iNEMI has requested input from SEMI members on key sections. The working group is asking interested parties to review the 2009 Roadmap and comment on areas relevant to manufacturing technology. To obtain a free copy of the roadmap chapter (list price for non-iNEMI members is $325), qualified and interested parties should contact Dan Gamota, Working Group Chairman at dan.gamota@printovate.com.

iNEMI Roadmap: Diverse Participation Lacks Semiconductor and FPD Equipment Manufacturers

Since publishing the 2007 Roadmap, the number of companies, universities, and technical institutions engaged in research, product development and commercialization has grown to over 400. In response to this growth and focus on product development and commercialization, the 2009 Roadmap attracted a greater number of participants that provided a broader overview of materials and processes used for the production of large area electronics enabled products.

While the iNEMI Roadmap effort has diverse participation, especially from academia and industry, it does not comprise representatives from semiconductor and flat panel display equipment manufacturers, and only large, diversified materials companies are represented. By participating in the roadmap effort, SEMI members can gain greater insight into the current state of the industry, and obtain greater understanding of the current technical barriers to successful commercial deployment.

Source: The 2009 Large Area, Flexible Electronics Roadmap

Challenges Identified in the Roadmap

Critical component, materials and subsystem challenges identified in the 2009 roadmap effort include processing platforms, in-line characterization tools, functional-inks, barrier films and packaging, and flexible circuitry. The report lists three supply chain infrastructure issues that need addressing for large-scale commercialization: 1.) integrated manufacturing platform suppliers, 2.) in-line and off-line characterization equipment suppliers, and 3.) functional ink suppliers.

Currently, most companies developing large area electronics products leverage printing technologies that are being developed as stand-alone systems and being augmented by more conventional fab technologies to complete a manufacturing line. This approach enables incremental improvement in efficiency and reduction in cost by the conventional display and semiconductor fabs. The thick film equipment platform (printing platforms) for large area electronics is in its early stages of development and requires the integration of hardware/software tooling to ensure well-controlled processing leading to high-yield final product manufacturing.

Activities around the World Accelerating Development

Significant activities are occurring around the world to accelerate both application and scientific developments in large area, roll-to-roll processed, printed, and flexible electronics. In Germany, the Organic Electronics Association (OE-A) has published its 2nd Roadmap identifying the critical elements necessary for the successful commercialization of organic based electronics. The European Union (EU) 7th Framework is funding several consortia to develop enabling large area electronics technology platforms.

Singapore, Japan, Korea, and China have also made significant commitments to large area flexible electronics by funding multi-million dollar programs and consortia for pre-competitive technology development. In the U.S., NIST and DARPA have funded large area electronics projects in the past. However, more recently, funding has waned due to the general economic climate. In October, SEMI hosted a workshop by the Flextech Alliance on substrate requirements for printed and flexible electronics that attracted over 100 participants.

As early products— flexible displays, solar PV, lighting, and RFID— achieve commercial success, rapid growth of the electronics manufacturing equipment supply chain is expected. With effective technology roadmaps and other pre-competitive collaborations in place, it is expected that revenue growth, financial attractiveness, and profitability of the entire segment can be significantly enhanced.

To obtain a free copy of the roadmap chapter (list price for non-iNEMI members is $325), qualified and interested parties should contact Dan Gamota, Working Group Chairman at dan.gamota@printovate.com. For more information, please contact Tom Morrow at tmorrow@semi.org.

December 1, 2009