The current field overall is made up of about 73% OLED displays, 21% sensors, 5% conductive inks, and 1% each for other displays & lighting, and power/memory. IDTechEx forecasts that today’s 40% market share for predominantly flexible electronics will grow to 63% in 2027.
The following Converting Curmudgeon bullet points-of-interest offer trends and predictions for this market heading fast toward critical mass:
- Wearables in all their forms represented a $32 billion market last year. Medical devices are the largest segment (about 50%) with a sustained long-term value proposition. “Smart”-type products (6%) are a small total market today but require large investments as an immature value chain drives up costs. Smartwatches and fitness trackers were an early flagship product, but revenue growth is slowing due to commoditization of devices.
- Connected things are searching for monetary reward. Government-led “smart cities” projects are using over 50 million smart meters a year across the European Union. Industry 4.0 apps are finding most of their value via software. Rapid growth in smart-home apps is starting now for things such as locks, thermostats, motion detection, lighting and air quality. Due to cost savings and sales improvement, about 14 billion RFID tags will be sold in 2017.
- Printed and flexible sensors will be a $6.85-billion market in 2020, keyed on $5.8 billion in printed blood-glucose sensors, followed by $400 million in hybrid image sensors.
- Flexible batteries are creating new product categories. Wearables and consumer-electronics battery-volume demand will total 55 GWh in 2022 from 40 GWh today.
- The Ivory Tower of Automotive will crumble as the internal combustion engine will represent less than 10% of new vehicles in 2031, replaced by a 50/50 mix of 48V mild-hybrid and pure-electric & strong hybrid cars.
- The most value in energy harvesting today is in sales of complete systems. In 2025, about $2 billion of value will be derived from devices that gather 0.01mW to 1W of power, and about $5 billion from devices recouping from 1W to 100kW of power.