It is truly an exciting time to be in the printed electronics industry. Having spent the last twenty plus years in printed electronics, I continue to be amazed with the diversity of its markets. The majority of those years have been spent in membrane switch manufacturing, and the diversity in that industry alone is astounding and keeps that industry striving and moving forward into new industries. The newest buzz in our industry is without a doubt Wearables Technology and Printed Electronic Sensors. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Smart Fabrics & Wearable Technology conference in San Francisco. Diversity is driving that industry as well and the technology is suddenly moving at a rapid pace. What once seemed like science fiction is quickly becoming reality and creating an exciting and challenging time for printed electronics manufacturers and their suppliers.
The “buzz” is not just evident at the Trade Shows and Conferences. As the manager of Nicomatic’s printed electronics division, I am seeing this market take hold with our membrane switch customers. Most all of the manufacturers I visit are not only manufacturing membrane switches, but are now also producing printable electronic sensors for wearables technology in medical, automotive, and outdoor gear products just to name a few. Attendees present at the conference included companies you might expect such as GE Healthcare, Nike, Adidas, and North Face. They are all investing heavily into printed electronic- wearable sensor products. But there seemed to be no end to familiar companies that are looking to include this technology in their products. Several familiar medical products companies, Simmons Mattress, Harley-Davidson, Google, LG Electronics, Ford, Goodyear, Intel Corporation, and the US Army were also among the attendees that are looking at providing new and inventive products that include printable electronic sensors. This evolving industry and the products being produced seems to be limited only by our imaginations.
The team work and collaboration between suppliers was very evident and impressive as well. The manufacturers are looking for suppliers that will work with them to provide products that have a user centric approach. Conductive ink manufacturers are working with plastics and textile companies to produce conductive inks that are stretchable and washable, and textile manufacturers themselves are producing conductive thread for the manufacture of electronic wearables. Most all of these products need a system for making an electronic connection. Whether making a connection to a power source or a mother board, Nicomatic has proven to be an innovator. We, too, are embracing this new and exciting industry. Our DFM product has already proven to be a popular choice in this industry for connecting flat printed and crimped products to round discreet wire. Nicomatics’ DFM is available now in the North American market and should be available worldwide by the end of this summer. Nicomatic produces a large selection of Crimpflex products that are being used in this new industry and we are sure to produce new products as this industry evolves. Nicomatic will continue to support and innovate as this new industry moves forward and we look forward to working with the designers and manufacturers of printed electronics as science fiction quickly turns into reality.