A young woman with a roll of printed electronics from Henkel

© Messe München

Industry showcase confirms positive development of flexible and printed electronics

LOPEC 2024 is history. With 176 exhibiting companies and 2400 visitors from 48 countries, the tradeshow has almost outgrown the well-established setting of ICM Hall B.0 at Messe Munich. A further expansion is on the horizon.

Not even the large-scale strike of the German railway personnel prevented LOPEC from reaching new heights in terms of visitors. And a closer look at the exhibitors tells a similar story: Gone are the days when the event was a mostly academic showcase, with many possibilities and fascinating proof-of-concepts, but rarely any mass-market products. This is a mature gathering now, and maybe not even a “hidden champion” anymore, as one tradeshow expert once called it in a conversation with me.

Highly integrated = invisible?

The only caveat that remains could be this one: As soon as a printed electronics application becomes successful at a large scale, it is not easily recognisable as printed electronics anymore. Flexible, lightweight, affordable and sustainable – but maybe also invisible to the non-expert consumer. Probably, PE will never become as flashy and en-vogue as an iPhone presentation at Apple Park, but for those who know, it is one of the most fascinating and beneficial technologies out there – and it is set to improve and revolutionise the lives of countless people now and in the near future.

Game changers

Leakage detection and moisture sensors in healthcare are game changers for our ageing society. Printed sensors are enabling a more sustainable, safe and comfortable form of mobility. And OLED, Micro LED, or electrochromic displays are transforming not only consumer electronics, but also smart packaging and supply chain applications.

OPV – finally!

Another thing stood out at LOPEC 2024: Conference Chair Wolfgang Mildner called it “the renaissance of flexible photovoltaics”. Finally, one may want to add! One of the most prominent examples at this year’s LOPEC was the presentation of the Flex2Energy automated R2R manufacturing production line for integrated printed organic photovoltaics at the OET and Coatema booths. This large-scale endeavour is proof that OPV applications are no longer limited to the smaller (but equally fascinating and game-changing) innovations that companies such as Epishine or Dracula Technologies have successfully brought to the market.

I am already excited for the next LOPEC edition in 2025. Hopefully without any strikes in Germany, and with even more optimism and technological game changers.

Written by Martin Hirschmann, Editor-in-Chief

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