This workshop, held in Brussels on 10 December 2018, focused on manufacturing of and access to flexible and printed electronics for innovative products. The event brought together several key stakeholders from industry and research, covering major parts of the value chain, from components and technologies to products and solutions, while exploring existing European strengths and areas in need of improvement. The report includes recommendations for action at European level to strengthen flexible and printed electronics value chains and build up coherent and connected manufacturing capacities.

Manufacturing and Access to New Technologies for Innovative Products

Flexible and Printed Electronics is an emerging technology producing thin, lightweight, flexible, electronic sensing components for a broad set of products and applications, including wearables. Solutions require large area manufacturing on flexible substrates, such as plastic, paper, thin glass and textile, which allow large-scale fabrication of advanced, affordable, multi-functional products with adjustable form factor,  with a global market valued at $26.9B in 2016 and due to expansion into new application areas, projected to grow to $43B by 2020, a year-on-year growth of 13.9%.

Europe possesses strong assets in this domain, including world-class design and innovation expertise at Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs) and industrial capabilities at the application layer. In addition, Europe is well positioned to manufacture highly innovative electronic products in low/mid-volume segments, with high added value for end-users in wearable, health and care, construction, automotive, interior/exterior lighting, and organic photovoltaics market segments.

In a global view, the field is very competitive and the race to mass-manufactured products is open. Major regions of the world invest heavily to develop innovative technologies and manufacturing capacity. In Europe, this can only be addressed through coordinated efforts to deliver the right form of manufacturing capacity.

In the report, common issues for further reflection have been identified, such as access to manufacturing, investment capacity, design and prototyping, and sustainable development. Finally, key recommendations in the areas of community building, research and development, access to technology, production and manufacturing have been proposed as an outcome of the discussions during the event, and are presented in the report in further detail.

Full report

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