The development of flexible electronics has spanned the past few years; ranging from the development of flexible solar cell arrays to flexible OLED electronics on plastic substrates. The rapid development of this ﬁeld has been spurred by consistent technological development in large-area electronics, thereby developing the areas like ﬂat-panel electronics, medical image sensors, and electronic paper. Many factors contribute to the rise of flexible electronics; they are: more ruggedness, lightweight, portable, and less cost, with respect to production as compared to rigid substrate electronics. Basic electronic structure is composed of a substrate, backplane electronics, a front plane, and encapsulation. To make the structure flexible, all the components must bend up to some degree without losing their function. Two basic approaches have been adopted to make flexible electronics, that is; transfer and bonding of completed circuits to a flexible substrate and fabrication of the circuits directly on the flexible substrate. The Global flexible electronics market is expected to reach US$13.23 bln by 2020, at an estimated CAGR of 21.73%. The emerging consumer electronics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 44.30%. North America is the biggest flexible electronics market, followed by Europe and APAC, as per MarketsandMarkets. Flexible electronics is the mounting of electronic devices on flexible plastic substrate like polyamide, or transparent conductive polyester film. It is broadly classified into various components such as: flexible displays, flexible batteries, flexible sensors, Photovoltaics, logic and memory, and others. Key players in the flexible display market are Samsung Display (South Korea), PARC (U.S.), and LG Display Co. Ltd. (South Korea). Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (South Korea) and LG Corporation (South Korea) together accounted for more than 55% share of the flexible consumer electronics market. Revenue generation by these two companies is majorly fuelled by a stable growth of consumer electronics segment. In addition to this, companies like PARC (U.S.) solely focus on R&D activities in the field of printed and flexible electronics, whereas First Solar (U.S.) specially focuses on manufacturing of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. These technologies are expected to be used extensively in various modern applications such as consumer electronics, automobile, healthcare, energy and power, and others. In addition to this, large chunk of revenue is expected to generate from consumer electronics application segment, especially from flexible displays.
The global flexible electronics market was US$20850 mln in 2015, which is estimated to reach US$87210 mln by 2024, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. Asia Pacific flexible electronics market accounted for over 20% of the overall revenue share in 2015. Escalating demand for compact and light-weight electronic devices is anticipated to fuel growth over the forecast period. Flexible batteries, displays, memories are a few products realized with the adoption of this technology. The technology provides ample opportunities in the area of smart textiles, which is the future of wearable's. Government support in the form of funding that lends a helping hand to several research projects in this field is also anticipated to impact the industry growth positively. Healthy demand for smart glasses, e-books, smartphones, smart watches, and e-papers is expected to catapult market growth over the next eight years. The technology facilitates electronic systems to be stretched, rolled, and flexed, minimizing design issues associated while developing compact, portable and miniature devices. The style and functionality of wearable devices is anticipated to witness a transition over the next eight years with companies such as Samsung, Apple, Nike and Google investing heavily in this segment, thereby providing avenues for discovering novel applications incorporating this technology. Further key findings from the report suggest:
- The consumer electronics segment accounted for over 55% of the overall revenue in 2015. The year 2014 witnessed the onset of new curved televisions, smart phones, and other electronic devices; a trend that gained traction in 2015, and is expected to impact the flexible electronics demand favorably from 2016 to 2024 owing to high penetration in the wearable's segment
- The display segment is projected to grow at a CAGR exceeding 16% over the forecast period. It is primarily attributed to the ability of these products to curve, roll, flex, conform and fold, enabling a new intuitive user interface. Further, companies are progressing towards the use of plastic displays as an alternative to glass displays, which provides opportunity for future growth.
- Wearable devices segment accounted for over 40% of the overall revenue in 2015 and is expected to witness a healthy demand over the forecast period. This increase is primarily ascribed to upsurge in demand for fitness or activity trackers as these products are well-positioned in the market with a promise of tracking productivity, physical activity, heart rate, sleep, etc. that intrigues customers
- Asia Pacific flexible electronics market accounted for over 20% of the overall revenue share in 2015. Research capabilities and aggressive investments by major industry players such as LG and Samsung Electronics in anticipated to drive regional growth over the forecast period
- Prominent industry participants include 3M, E Ink Holdings Inc., GE Measurement & Control Solutions, ITN Energy Systems Inc., LG, PARC, Samsung, and Thinfilm Electronics ASA. Strategic alliances among the major stakeholders such as material manufacturers, academia, and device integrators is anticipated to strengthen the existing technology know-how while driving drive efforts to explore new application areas