Heidelberg starts production of printed organic electronics

Heidelberg starts production of printed organic electronics

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Initially, the company plans to print sensors for use in dental applications. These sensors were developed at InnovationLab GmbH (iL), a joint venture of BASF, SAP and Heidelberger Druckmaschinen as well as the Kalrsruher Institute of Technology (KIT). As the first innovation, a printed sensor can digitally record the chewing pressure distribution of the occlusion, the joining of the upper and lower jaw. This can then be visualized three-dimensionally and stored on a tablet computer in order to detect and subsequently correct any undesirable developments. In the future, the Heidelberg high-tech campus will also use modern printing technology to produce sensors for digital applications, particularly in the healthcare and logistics sectors as well as the retail and automotive industries.

“The entry into the development and industrial production of printed and organic electronics is a milestone for Heidelberg,” said Rainer Hundsdörfer, CEO of Heidelberg Druckmaschinen. “We see growth opportunities in the double- to triple-digit million Euro range for us as the operator of this production of high-tech sensors.”

With the industrial-scale printing of organic electronics and the associated software and hardware development, the mechanical engineering company intends to take digitalisation forward. With the innovative printing technology of sensors, the company, together with its ecosystem, sees itself as a world leader in this technology area. For Heidelberg, the introduction of this technology offers extensive development opportunities as an operator: printing sensors on an industrial scale, roll-to-roll in clean rooms.

Printed and organic electronics is an innovative technology for producing sensors based on conductive inks and functional materials. Integrated in wireless sensor nodes, they are considered a cornerstone for the application areas Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things. Ultimately, this printing technology has the potential to expand existing digital business models and, above all, to trigger the development of new intelligent products. There is already great demand, particularly in the health care and logistics sectors, as well as in retail, the automotive industry, consumer electronics, portable technologies and building automation.

iL GmbH and Heidelberg have set themselves an ambitious goal for their cooperation. Together they want to play a leading role worldwide in the field of printed electronics. Both companies offer new markets and opportunities for partnerships in diverse industries with innovative products. According to experts, the economic potential for printed sensors is enormous. In the next ten years, they forecast sales of up to one billion euros.

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