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Market Research Report

Flexible, Printed and Thin Film Batteries 2016-2026: Technologies, Forecasts, Players

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Flexible, Printed and Thin Film Batteries 2016-2026: Technologies, Forecasts, Players
Published: May 1, 2016 Content info: 298 Slides

“The market for batteries with new form and structural factors will increase to over $470 m by 2026.”

The battery market has suddenly become alive again in recent years. On the one hand, batteries are assuming new form factors, becoming ultra-thin, flexible, rollable, stretchable, etc. On the other hand, manufacturers are scrambling to offer large batteries aimed at addressing the large-sized electric vehicle, residential and grid applications. This market study is focused on the former.

Thin, printed and/or flexible battery (or batteries with novel form factors) are back on the agenda thanks to the rise of Internet of Things, wearables and environmental sensors. These applications require new features and battery designs that traditional battery technologies simply cannot provide. This has opened the door to innovation and added a new dimension to the global competition between battery suppliers. IDTechEx predicts that this market will grow to become a $471m industry in 2026 from a small market base today.

Transforming industry

This is a fast changing industry. The technology is in a state of rapid progress as new designs, methods and modified chemistries are frequently announced. The business landscape is also being dramatically altered as many companies are now gearing up to progress their lab scale technologies into mass production. These are exciting years for this emerging technology.

The composition of the target market is undergoing drastic change driven by the emergence of new addressable market categories. Traditionally, the micro-power thin and printed batteries were used in skin patches, RFID tags and smart cards. Today, however, many new emerging applications have appeared, enticing many large players to enter the foray and thus transforming a business landscape that was once populated predominantly by small firms.

The change in target markets is inevitably causing change in the technology landscape too. This means that the market in 2026 will look vastly different from that in 2016, both on the technology and market level. Technology and markets that are major constituents today will have a small role to play, while new segments and technology will grow to dominate this sector. This change is shown in the figure below.

Figure 1:
The market composition for thin film,
flexible or printed technology storage devices is drastically transforming

                     Source: IDTechE

IDTechEx provides detailed technology assessment and benchmarking, ten-year market forecasts segmented by application and technology type, and detailed interview-based business intelligence and profiles on key players and large end-users.

In this study IDTechEx has drawn upon at least 35 direct interviews and visits with key suppliers and large end-users from a variety of sectors and years of accumulated experience and market knowledge for the end use applications such as active RFIDs, smart cards, skin patches, smart packaging and recently wearables and IoT. Our team working on this project is highly technical, enabling it to fully understand the merits and challenges of each technology in this complex landscape.

Complex landscape to navigate

The market and technology landscape is complex. There are no black-and-white and clear technology winners and the definition of market requirements is in a constant state of flux.

Indeed, on the technology side, there are many solutions that fall within the broad category of thin film, flexible or printed batteries. These include printed batteries, thin-film batteries, laminar lithium-polymer batteries, advanced lithium-ion batteries, micro-batteries, stretchable batteries, thin flexible supercapacitors. It is therefore confusing technology landscape to navigate and betting on the right technology is not straightforward.

On the market side, many applications are still emerging and the requirements are fast evolving. The target markets are also very diverse and not overlapping, each with different requirements for power, lifetime, thinness, cost, charging cycles, reliability, flexibility, etc. This diversity of requirements means that no thin film battery solution offers a one-size-fits-all solution.

Figure 2:
Applications of batteries with new form and structural factors

                     Source: IDTechE


Wearable technology and electronic textiles are a major growth areas for thin film and flexible batteries. Conventional secondary batteries may meet the energy requirements of wearable devices, but they struggle to achieve flexibility, thinness and light weight. These new market requirements open up the space for energy storage solutions with novel form factors. Indeed, the majority of thin film battery companies tell us that they have on-going projects in the wearable technology field. High-energy thin film batteries have the highest potential here followed by printed rechargeable zinc battery provided the latter can improve.

The healthcare sector is also a promising target market. Skin patches using printed batteries are already a commercial reality while IDTechEx anticipates that the market for disposable medical devices requiring micro-power batteries will also expand. This is a hot space as the number of skin patch companies is rapidly rising. Here, printed zinc batteries have the highest potential but price needs to continue falling before a higher market uptake takes place. Here too, new form factors will be the key differentiator compared to the high-volume incumbents such as coin cell batteries. Medical diagnostic devices, medical sensors are also promising markets, although the current thin battery technology is not mature enough yet to be applied straightaway.

Wireless sensors/networks application is another important trend. Here, there is a trend to combine energy harvesting with thin batteries with superior form factors.

Active and battery-assisted passive RFID is also a potential target market although coin-cells are the main solutions unless there is a stringent requirement for laminar or flexible design such as in car plates. It is also in these small niches that thin film batteries might find place.

Smart cards also remain an attractive sector and several thin-film battery technologies have been optimised to meet the lamination requirements for card manufacture. The price is however too steep and lifetime too low for primary batteries (and charging challenging for secondary ones) to enable widespread market penetration. The emerging of online and mobile banking carries a long-term threat of substitution.

Technology assessment

IDTechEx provides a detailed assessment of all the key energy storage technologies that fall under the broad category of thin film, flexible or printed batteries. It provides a critical and quantitative analysis and benchmarks different solutions.

Market forecasts

IDTechEx has developed detailed and granular market forecasts segmented by technology type as well as end use applications. These forecasts are based on (a) primary information obtained through our direct interview programme with suppliers and end-users, attending conferences globally and also organising our own conferences on wearable technologies, RFIDs and printed electronics; and (b) a critical technical assessment of competing technologies.

The technologies and end use applications covered are:


  • Wearables and Electronic Textiles
  • Medical and Cosmetic
  • Portable Electronics
  • Internet of Things, Wireless Sensors and Connected Devices
  • RFID
  • Smart Card
  • Smart Packaging Interactive Media, Toys, Games, Cards
  • Others


  • Printed Battery
  • Solid-State Batteries
  • Micro-Batteries
  • Thin-Film Lithium Batteries
  • Lithium-Polymer Batteries
  • Advanced Lithium-Ion Battery
  • Thin Flexible Supercapacitors
  • Laminar Fuel Cells
  • Stretchable, Cable-Shaped, Transparent, Foldable, etc. Batteries

Business Intelligence

IDTechEx has interviewed and profiled 35 suppliers and end-users. In addition, IDTechEx has also listed and described 60 companies.

Analyst access from IDTechEx

All report purchases include up to 30 minutes telephone time with an expert analyst who will help you link key findings in the report to the business issues you're addressing. This needs to be used within three months of purchasing the report.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


  • 1.1. Overview
  • 1.2. Structure of the report
  • 1.3. Who should read this report
  • 1.4. Research methodology
  • 1.5. Future Direction of Battery Development
  • 1.6. Major drivers for the development of new-form-and-structural-factor batteries
  • 1.7. Status of flexible batteries
  • 1.8. Value proposition
  • 1.9. Challenges and difficulties
  • 1.10. Development roadmap of batteries
  • 1.11. Application market roadmap
  • 1.12. Technology benchmarking
  • 1.13. Consumer electronics giants are moving into flexible batteries
  • 1.14. LG Chem's offerings
  • 1.15. Apple's contribution
  • 1.16. Samsung - never falling behind
  • 1.17. Nokia's approach
  • 1.18. Threats from other power sources
  • 1.19. Typical specifications for a CR2032 lithium coin battery
  • 1.20. Coin cell or thin battery, that is the question
  • 1.21. Advantages and limitations of supercapacitors
  • 1.22. Are supercapacitors threats to batteries?
  • 1.23. Trends towards multiple energy harvesting
  • 1.24. Comparison of different power options
  • 1.25. Business model
  • 1.26. A practical battery is a combination of many considerations
  • 1.27. Strategies for battery providers focusing on new form and structural factors
  • 1.28. Market by territory
  • 1.29. Market forecast 2016-2026 by application (number of units)
  • 1.30. Market forecast 2016-2026 by application (value)
  • 1.31. Market by application in 2016 and 2026
  • 1.32. Market forecast 2016-2026 by technology
  • 1.33. Conclusions


  • 2.1. What is a battery?
  • 2.2. Battery categories
  • 2.3. Commercial battery packaging technologies
  • 2.4. Comparison of commercial battery packaging technologies
  • 2.5. Electrode design & architecture: important for different applications
  • 2.6. Electrochemical inactive components in the battery
  • 2.7. Primary vs secondary batteries
  • 2.8. Popular battery chemistries
  • 2.9. Primary Battery chemistries and common applications
  • 2.10. Numerical specifications of popular rechargeable battery chemistries
  • 2.11. Nomenclature for lithium-based rechargeable batteries
  • 2.12. Lithium-ion & lithium metal batteries
  • 2.13. Lithium-ion batteries


  • 3.1. Overview
  • 3.2. A big obstacle - energy density
  • 3.3. Battery technology is based on redox reactions
  • 3.4. Electrochemical reaction is essentially based on electron transfer
  • 3.5. Electrochemical inactive components reduce energy density
  • 3.6. The importance of an electrolyte in a battery
  • 3.7. Cathode & anode need to have structural order
  • 3.8. Failure story about metallic lithium anode
  • 3.9. Conclusion


  • 4.1. Typical thicknesses of the traditional battery components
  • 4.2. Design differences between thin-film batteries and bulk-size batteries
  • 4.3. Most successful commercial thin-film battery
  • 4.4. Typical manufacturing processes for thin-film batteries
  • 4.5. Construction of an ultra-thin lithium battery
  • 4.6. Advantages and disadvantages of selected materials
  • 4.7. Trend of materials and processes of thin-film battery in different companies
  • 4.8. Comparison of various solid-state Lithium-based batteries
  • 4.9. Shortcomings of thin-film batteries
  • 4.10. Units used to characterize thin-film batteries
  • 4.11. Areal energy density vs. cell thickness
  • 4.12. Ultra-thin micro-battery-NanoEnergy®
  • 4.13. Micro-Batteries suitable for integration
  • 4.14. From limited to mass production-STMicroelectronics
  • 4.15. Summary of the EnFilm™ rechargeable thin-film battery
  • 4.16. Thin-film solid-state batteries made by Excellatron
  • 4.17. Stacked micro-batteries
  • 4.18. Thin-film battery potentials


  • 5.1. Architectures of micro-batteries
  • 5.2. Introduction to micro-batteries
  • 5.3. 3D printed lithium-ion micro-batteries
  • 5.4. Primary Li/CFx micro-battery


  • 6.1. Realization of batteries' mechanical properties
  • 6.2. Stresses generated in a the battery during flexing
  • 6.3. Material-derived flexibility
  • 6.4. Comparison of a flexible LIB with a traditional one
  • 6.5. Thin and flexible alkaline battery developed by New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • 6.6. Flexible battery achieved by anode materials
  • 6.7. Lithium-polymer cells
  • 6.8. Showa Denko Packaging
  • 6.9. Semiconductor Energy Laboratory
  • 6.10. Flexible lithium-ion battery from QinetiQ
  • 6.11. Flexible and foldable batteries: still working after being washed by the washing machine
  • 6.12. Toes Opto-Mechatronics
  • 6.13. Highly conductive polymer gel electrolyte and lamination processes for roll-to-roll li-ion cell production
  • 6.14. Flexion from BrightVolt
  • 6.15. Flexion™ Product Matrix
  • 6.16. Bendable lithium-based battery
  • 6.17. Solid-state batteries
  • 6.18. ProLogium: Solid-state lithium ceramic battery
  • 6.19. Ilika's solid-state micro-battery
  • 6.20. Cable-type batteries
  • 6.21. Cable-type battery developed by LG Chem
  • 6.22. Large-area multi-stacked textile battery for flexible and rollable applications
  • 6.23. Stretchable lithium-ion battery - use spring-like lines
  • 6.24. Foldable kirigami lithium-ion battery developed by Arizona State University
  • 6.25. Fibre-shaped lithium-ion battery that can be woven into electronic textiles
  • 6.26. Fibre-shaped lithium-ion battery that can be woven into electronic textiles (continued)


  • 7.1. Printing techniques
  • 7.2. Throughput vs. feature size for typical printing processes
  • 7.3. Comparison between inkjet printing and screen printing
  • 7.4. Examples of production facilities


  • 8.1. Printed disposable battery
  • 8.2. Typical construction and reaction of printed disposable battery
  • 8.3. Printed batteries from Fraunhofer ENAS
  • 8.4. Fraunhofer's printed batteries
  • 8.5. SoftBattery® from Enfucell
  • 8.6. Blue Spark batteries
  • 8.7. FlexEL LLC
  • 8.8. Paper batteries from Rocket Electric
  • 8.9. Rechargeable ZincPolyTM from Imprint Energy
  • 8.10. Imprint Energy's technology innovations and specifications
  • 8.11. Screen printed secondary NMH batteries


  • 9.1. Needle battery from Panasonic
  • 9.2. Batteries with optical properties
  • 9.3. Transparent components for batteries
  • 9.4. Transparent battery developed by Waseda University
  • 9.5. Grid-like transparent lithium-ion battery


  • 10.1. Laminar fuel cells
  • 10.2. What is a capacitor
  • 10.3. Comparison of construction diagrams of three basic types of capacitor
  • 10.4. Supercapacitor
  • 10.5. Thin and flexible supercapacitor - PowerWrapper
  • 10.6. Two product lines fill the power gap
  • 10.7. Battery-like thin-film supercapacitor by Rice University
  • 10.8. Printed supercapacitors
  • 10.9. University of Southern California
  • 10.10. Flexible, transparent supercapacitors


  • 11.1. Summary of the electrolyte properties
  • 11.2. Liquid electrolytes
  • 11.3. Solid-state electrolytes
  • 11.4. Gel Electrolytes
  • 11.5. Cathode materials for primary cells
  • 11.6. Cathode materials for secondary cells
  • 11.7. Anodes
  • 11.8. Current collectors and packaging


  • 12.1. Applications of battery with new form and structural factors
  • 12.2. Power range for electronic and electrical devices


  • 13.1. The growth of wearables
  • 13.2. Changes towards wearable devices
  • 13.3. Batteries are the main bottleneck of wearables
  • 13.4. Wearables at different locations of a human body
  • 13.5. Wearables: smart watch, wristband and bracelet
  • 13.6. Wrist-worn application examples with flexible batteries 1
  • 13.7. Wrist-worn application examples with flexible batteries 2
  • 13.8. Wrist-worn application examples with flexible batteries 3
  • 13.9. Wrist-worn application examples with flexible batteries 4
  • 13.10. Ankle/foot-worn application examples
  • 13.11. Head/eye-worn application examples
  • 13.12. Electronic apparel & glove and textiles
  • 13.13. Military
  • 13.14. Other wearable application examples
  • 13.15. Summary and conclusions for wearable applications


  • 14.1. Mobile healthcare: Huge growth potential
  • 14.2. Cosmetic skin patches
  • 14.3. Medical skin patches - the dark horse
  • 14.4. Medical skin patch examples
  • 14.5. A list of increasing number of medical skin patch products
  • 14.6. Medical implants


  • 15.1. Future trend in battery for consumer electronics
  • 15.2. Flexibility: Big giants' growing interest
  • 15.3. Thinness is still required for now and future
  • 15.4. Slim consumer electronics
  • 15.5. New market: Thin batteries can help to increase the total capacity
  • 15.6. Will modular phones be the direction of the future?
  • 15.7. Thin and flexible supercapacitor for consumer electronics


  • 16.1. Something new vs Renamed world of mobile phones
  • 16.2. Internet of Things
  • 16.3. Batteries for IoT
  • 16.4. Power supply options for WSN
  • 16.5. Rod-shape battery - examples
  • 16.6. Novel examples of thin batteries in IoT devices
  • 16.7. Thoughts about thin and flexible batteries in novel devices
  • 16.8. Maintenance-free wireless power for the IoT: Ready or not?
  • 16.9. Micro-batteries integrated with energy harvesting devices
  • 16.10. Real time clock backup, SRAM backup and microcontroller (MCU)
  • 16.11. RFID sensors/ tags with thin batteries
  • 16.12. Examples of thin batteries used in RFID tags/ sensors


  • 17.1. Smart packaging and advertising examples
  • 17.2. Audio Paper™ developed by Toppan Printing
  • 17.3. Case studies of power for smart packaging


  • 18.1. Where will the powered smart cards go?
  • 18.2. Arrangement of batteries in smart cards


  • 19.1. Application examples
  • 19.2. How about printed battery for other disposable applications


  • 20.1. List of global players with descriptions



  • 22.1. Companies that have stopped trading


  • 23.1. Adidas
  • 23.2. Amcor
  • 23.3. Colgate-Palmolive
  • 23.4. De La Rue
  • 23.5. Decathlon
  • 23.6. Diageo
  • 23.7. MeadWestvaco
  • 23.8. P&G
  • 23.9. RR Donnelley
  • 23.10. Unilever


  • 24.1. Blue Spark Technologies
  • 24.2. BrightVolt (Solicore)
  • 24.3. Cymbet
  • 24.4. Enfucell
  • 24.5. FlexEl
  • 24.6. Fraunhofer ENAS (TU Chemnitz)
  • 24.7. Front Edge Technology
  • 24.8. Fullriver
  • 24.9. Huizhou Markyn New Energy
  • 24.10. Imprint Energy
  • 24.11. Ilika
  • 24.12. Jenax
  • 24.13. LG Chem
  • 24.14. NEC
  • 24.15. Paper Battery Company
  • 24.16. Prelonic
  • 24.17. ProLogium
  • 24.18. Rocket Electric
  • 24.19. STMicroelectronics
  • 24.20. VTT


  • 25.1. Glossary
  • 25.2. Abbreviations
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