Stretchable and Conformal Electronics: the ten year market outlook

Stretchable and Conformal Electronics: the ten year market outlook
An elastic circuit © iStock/shawn_hempel

IDTechEx tell us about the Stretchable and Conformal Electronics 2019-2029 report, which provides you with everything that you need to know about stretchable electronics.

It provides the most comprehensive and insightful view of this diverse emerging industry, discussing each of the different stretchable materials/components available and/or being developed today, referencing over 60 product types that may integrate stretchable electronics, covering the progress of more than 100 companies and 25 research institutes including first-hand primary research on 62 companies, and providing ten-year market forecasts segmented by more than 14 material/component areas.

This report develops a critical technology assessment for a vast array of emerging stretchable electronic materials and components. Prominent options today include stretchable sensors and stretchable connectors (including conductive inks, yarns/cabling, stretchable PCBs and more). More emerging options including actuators, logic/transistors, energy harvesting and energy storage (batteries, supercapacitors, etc.). Our forecasts are segmented by 14 different stretchable component types. The report also discusses drivers and product types around various end user markets, including applications in healthcare, automotive, industrial and consumer applications.

Technology insight and business intelligence based on years of primary research

Stretchable and Conformal Electronics 2019-2029 is the result of years of global primary research on stretchable electronics itself, but also on its constituent elements and target applications. For example, IDTechEx analysts have covered topics such as conductive inks, in-mold electronics, electronic textiles, flexible/stretchable printed circuit boards, wearable technologies, stretchable sensors, stretchable transparent conductive films, structural electronics and more.

In the past three years alone, we have met and/or interviewed at least 60 companies active in the value chain of stretchable electronics, attended more than 20 conferences/tradeshows across the world where stretchable electronic products were discussed/exhibited, and delivered multiple tailored consulting projects. In addition, the IDTechEx Show! is a biannual conference and tradeshow focused on electronics with new form factors. Organising this event for the past decade allows IDTechEx to stay closely connected to the entire ecosystem, including all of the leading players as the industry has evolved.

Stretchable Electronics: enabling the future of electronics

The electronic industry is in the midst of a major paradigm shift: novel form factors are emerging ranging from limited flexibility to ultra-elastic and conformable electronics. This transfiguration has been in the making for more than a decade now, but is only now beginning to make a substantial commercial impact. This is not an incremental shift along well-established industry lines. Instead, it seeks to create new functions, new applications, and new users. As such, this technology frontier currently only has vague figures-of-merit and limited insight on customer needs.

Many opponents have long argued that this entire class of emerging materials/devices is a classic case of technology-push: a solution looking for a problem. This view may have been justified in the early days, but we now see this trend as an essential step towards the inevitable endgame of new electronics: structural electronics. This is a disruptive megatrend that will transform traditional electronics from being components-in-a-box into truly invisible electronics that are structurally integrated where needed.

This is a major long-term theme that will lead to a root-and-branch change in the electronics industry including materials, components and the entire value chain. Stretchable and conformable electronics is giving shape to this megatrend. Indeed, it enables it.

Out of the lab and into the market

Stretchable Electronics is an umbrella term that conceals great diversity. It refers to a whole host of emerging electronic materials, components and devices that exhibit some degree of mechanical strain tolerance or “stretchability”. These include interconnects, sensors, actuators, functional films, batteries, logic, displays, etc. each of which is covered in detail within the report. Therefore, the overall term covers technology options which span the entire technology readiness scale. Some stretchable electronic components are already entering various markets, whereas others remain at early proof-of concept stages. Whilst the overall theme remains, IDTechEx expects that the individual stories within the sector will fragment, with some becoming commercially successful and others remaining largely academic curiosities.

This ship is beginning to sail now. Indeed, we anticipate that in many cases the winners will emerge within the next 3-5 years. This is why companies now need to urgently establish a closer collaboration between their commercial and research units, and should follow a strategy of touching upon as many nascent application spaces as their bandwidth allows to garner feedback, offer customized solutions, and fine-tune their research direction. In this report we provide a critical assessment of all the existing and emerging technologies. You will learn about the technology readiness levels, latest performance levels, unsolved technical challenges, late-stage or commercial prototypes and associated application targets. You will also learn about the emerging global business ecosystem pushing each technology.

No longer just a solution looking for a problem

Structural electronics is no longer just a solution looking for a problem. Indeed, it is finding commercial use in both niche applications in hard-to-find sectors as well as in high-volume visible products. It delivers strong value in multiple applications, at times as an enabling technology, whilst it remains an unessential or underperforming solution amongst many in others. The application space therefore also cannot be painted with a broad brush as it is diverse and fragmented. The success will be in the detail.

This report provides a detailed pipeline of applications. It covers both niche and mainstream use cases. It critically assesses the latest developments within each sector including latest commercial products, late-stage prototypes, market challenges, anticipated growth and so on.

What does this report provide?

1. Critical review and appraisal of all the existing and emerging stretchable electronics materials and components including stretch sensors, stretchable ink-, yarn-, or wire-based interconnects, stretchable transparent conductive films, stretchable PCBs, energy harvesters, batteries, supercapacitors, encapsulates, substrates, and so on.

2. Analysis of target markets including value proposition, market/technical challenges, real examples of latest products/prototypes, and market forecasts.

3. Ten-year market forecasts segmented by end market (automotive, health care & medical, sports & fitness; consumer; automation; and so on), product type (robotics, skin patches, apparel and non-apparel electronic textiles, and so on), or component (resistive, capacitive, and dielectric elastomer stretch sensors; ink, yarn and wire-based interconnects; inks and transparent conductive films for inks; stretchable transistors, displays, actuators, and so on)

4. Coverage and/or profiles of more than 60 companies based on primary research including in-person visits, interviews, tradeshow/conference interactions and so on.

For more see www.IDTechEx.com/stretch or contact research@IDTechEx.com.

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