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Consumer Brands Look to Printed Electronics for Energy Efficiency

Interest in Printed Electronics from major consumer brands worldwide is constantly increasing. A testimony to that is the ever-growing number of end-users presenting at the latest IDTechEx Printed Electronics conference this coming April, as well as the variety of industries they represent.

Kimberly Clark: The necessity for low cost electronics

In a recent interview with Dr Harry Zervos, Mr. Thomas Ales of Kimberly Clark Corporation verified once more what IDTechEx has been witnessing in the past months in terms of technology uptake.

“Kimberly-Clark’s interest in Printed Electronics is in the use of conductive materials into more consumer products” said Mr. Ales and he continued: “This allows functionality such as controllable heating and electronic sensing to be incorporated into consumer packaged goods. Smart Packaging applications continue to be a high interest area for Kimberly-Clark. Integrating Printed Electronics in consumer packages on a per package basis could lead to more cost flexibility (vs. per product) but still needs to come down considerably. Kimberly-Clark continues to monitor the trends printed electronics industry in hopes to find the right opportunities to integrate these materials into Kimberly-Clark products”.

According to Mr. Ales Printed Electronics and Photovoltaics could offer added functionality and consumer benefit/preference as they become cheaper and easier to integrate in existing products.

“Most of our consumer product offerings comprise of disposable raw materials where electronics are just not practical, safe, or cost effective. Again, Kimberly-Clark continues to assess the space of Printed Electronics as this type of technology offers a vision to realizing electronic functionality in a per package, per product basis”.

Electrolux: Lowering environmental impact

On an entirely different field, Electrolux Italia who will be presenting at the conference is a global leader in home appliances and appliances for professional use; it is indirectly controlled by the Swedish company AB Electrolux, selling more than 40 million products to customers on more than 150 markets every year.

Dr Cristina Bertoni, a researcher leading one of the R&D groups in Electrolux in scoping out innovative technologies told us recently:

“One of the most important targets for the Group is the development of products with lower energy consumption and environmental impact, and many research projects are dedicated to the application and to the evaluation of the benefits of new technologies.”

She concluded that “Printed electronics holds a great potential for innovation across several manufacturing sectors including household appliances. Developments in printed technology for RFID, displays and sensors could enable improvements and new opportunities in a variety of applications of our interest: from the supply chain to the everyday control of home appliances”.

Modularity in Printed Electronics

Mr. Ales also commented on the topic of basic hardware platforms in printed electronics.
“More recently, the industry has started to take a more modular approach to printed electronics – i.e. developing building blocks and ICs like Logic Gates and PLAs. This modular approach that helped the Silicon industry in the 60’s and 70’s will certainly help the printed electronics industry in driving the cost down for high volume disposable applications. Kimberly-Clark is excitedly watching such trends and looking for opportunities to integrate these in our consumer products”.

The importance of modularity and programmability has been highlighted by IDTechEx multiple times in the past and the understanding of their necessity for high volume production has led to significant steps towards their realization.
What comes next is bound to impress.

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