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LOPEC 2014 Enjoys Strong Growth

By David Savastano, Editor | 06.04.14

Attendance up 10 percent, exhibitors increase 26 percent

LOPEC 2014, the 6th International Exhibition and Conference for the Printed Electronics Industry, concluded May 28, 2014 at Messe Munich, with conference organizers OE-A and Messe Munich showcasing numerous new products, running a successful Demonstration Line and hosting a program covering a variety of topics, including 3D printing, sensors, OLEDs, organic photovoltaics (OPV) and more.
The OE-A and Messe Munich reported that LOPEC was a success, with attendance increasing more than 10% to more than 2,000 participants.  The number of exhibitors increased by 26% to 139, including 54 new exhibitors, and a total of 195 presentations.
“LOPEC has shown that the subject of printed electronics is becoming more mature and increasingly finding its way into application industries such as pharmaceuticals, automotive, consumer electronics and packaging,” said Wolfgang Mildner, LOPEC chair and OE-A vice chair Europe. “There were numerous examples of specific applications at the trade fair.”
The Plenary Session featured four speakers who offered insights into a number of areas. The first speaker, JAPERA president Hitoshi Abe of Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., analyzed “Japan’s Strategy for the Growth of Printed Electronics Technology and Business.”
“Printed electronics will open a new field of human-centric IC devices,” Abe said.
Bob Mackey of Synaptics followed with his talk on “Metal Mesh Touch Sensors.” Mackey noted that he couldn’t talk about the specific projects Synaptics is involved with, but said his company is “doing very well,” adding that metal mesh offers significant advantages to indium tin oxide (ITO). He noted that metal mesh is finding usage in smart phones, tablets and notebooks due to cost advantages, and large displays are also an area of growth.
“Larger size displays favor metal mesh due to its electrical properties,” Mackey said.
OPV was the next topic for discussion, with Frédéric Bonnefoy of AGC Glass Europe covering “Organic Photovoltaic in Building Applications: Glass Solutions for Zero Energy Buildings,” a look at sustainable solutions for buildings using smart windows and building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).  He noted that by 2020, the EU mandated that all public building must be nearly zero energy.
“This is a nice opportunity for PV,” Bonnefoy said. “Roof mounted panels covers the needs of the first three floors of a building.”
AGC Glass Europe is working with Heliatek to integrate solar film into glass for its BIPV projects.
Prof. Dr. Harri Kopola of VTT closed the Plenary Session with “Printed Intelligence Towards Products and Industrialisation.” The VTT has built pilot lines and developed core competences in manufacturing and materials, and as a result, has spun-out more than 20 start-ups in the PE field, three of which have staffs of more than 20 employees.
LOPEC hosted three concurrent tracks, two of which were Technical sessions, and the third its Business Conference.
Thin Film Electronics (Thinfilm) made a number of major announcements during LOPEC, and its CEO, Dr. Davor Sutija, offered insights into the company’s latest developments, including NFC enabled smart labels, during his talk on “A Smarter Everyday Powered by Printed Electronics – Bringing Intelligence to Everything.”
“The Internet of Everything is a $100 billion market opportunity, and the cost of integrating silicon is too high,” Dr. Sutija said, adding that Thinfilm has agreements with industry leaders such as Bemis, Nedap, Brady Corporation, TempTime and PakSense to supply its Printed Memory.
“You have to create systems for the Internet of Everything,” he said. “You need to extend rewriteable memory with logic. When you combine logic and memory, you can add displays, sensors and communications, and to get to the ubiquity level, imbedded readers will gather the information.”
Demonstration Line a Success
There are many potential end-users who come to printed electronics conferences but have little conception of how a PE system is actually created. To offer some idea, LOPEC 2014 featured a fully-functional Demonstration Line to produced a battery tester.
The battery tester was coordinated by Fraunhofer ENAS (Baumann Printing Research) from an idea by TU Darmstadt (IDD Printing Science Technology), in conjunction with Messe München.
LOPEC had 11 companies volunteer equipment to the Demonstration Line, including adphos, Bosch Rexroth, Coatema, DuPont Microcircuit Materials, Fujifilm Dimatix, Heraeus Precious Metals, LCR Hallcrest, Novacentrix, Schoeller Technocell, Thieme and Xenon Corporation.
Exhibition chair Thomas Kolbusch, vice president of Coatema Coating Machinery GmbH and a member of the OE-A Board noted that the battery tester was printed on paper, and as a result, is thin, flexible and lightweight.
“The Demonstration Line worked really well,” Kolbusch said. “We produced 1,400 working samples, and the companies put a great deal of effort into the line. We received very positive feedback.”
In an important announcement, the OE-A and Messe Munich said that LOPEC 2015 will be moving to March 3-5 next year.  The annual LOPEC conference will now be held in March for the next several years.