Time is ripe for structural electronics, says IDTechEx

December 11, 2014 // By Julien Happich
With 3D printing hot in the news, and conformable, flexible or even printed electronics fitting any shape, it is only a matter of time before electronic circuits can be laid-out as part of the 3D printing process, the electronic framework becoming an integral supporting part of any object's mechanical structure.

In some cases, there may still be room for modular plug-ins to accommodate hard-silicon islands, but IDTechEx’ Chairman Dr Peter Harrop describes structural electronics as one of the most important developments of this century

Introducing IDTechEx’ latest report on the topic, " Structural Electronics 2015-2025 ", Harrop reminds us that two years ago, IEEE published,"3D Printing for Rapid Prototyping of Structural Electronics", and that "structural batteries" have already been implemented in electric cars, in racing car aerofoils or in Tesla pure electric car (the power train entirely fitted into the sides and floor of the car).

Fitting things into spare spaces is really only a precursor of structural electronics, and a much bigger gain comes when existing dumb metal and plastic are not needed because load-bearing electronics and electrics take over.

“A faster payback and much greater saving in weight and space result. Indeed, many other benefits accrue. Laminar batteries in the wings of an aircraft may not need water cooling because of their shape.”, Harrop writes.

The report covers new advances and structural electronic strategies ranging from load-bearing supercapacitors to building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) to in-mold electronics, smart skins and novel 3D printing approaches for electronic components.

Visit IDTechEx at www.IDTechEx.com

Related articles:

3-D printed LED is embedded in contact lens

Flexible multi-touch printed sensors ready ahead of screens

A copyright mess in 3D

Newswatch: Tesla sketches out roadmap for the future?