The flexible electronics market was valued at USD 17.99 billion in 2020, and it is expected to reach a value of USD 41.25 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 18.75 % during the forecast period 2021 - 2026. Flexible electronics have gained huge popularity, with the growing number of applications, including wearables. Also, the advent of flexible batteries and the growing use of flexible sensors in smart packaging and tracking applications are expected to encourage the development of the flexible electronics market throughout the forecast period.
- According to BNP Media, by 2030, electronic components will account for 50% of an automobile's total production cost. Earlier this decade, it was only 30%. Progress in thin, light, and flexible electronics is behind a range of innovative technologies, from curved TVs to glucose-monitoring contact lenses. This can lead to the growth of printable solar cells and flexible screens using organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs).
- Moreover, foldable smartphones are gaining popularity in the market. After the introduction of their first model in 2018 by Samsung and Huawei, Motorola also introduced its foldable flagship phone, Moto Razr, recently in 2020. In line with this, in March 2020, Samsung launched its Galaxy Z Flip phone. The smartphone industry is expected to innovate and focus on the foldable phone from 2020 onward.
- In addition, the advancement of in-mold electronics (IME) and flexible sensors is further expanding the scope of flexible and printed electronics in smart wearable technologies. The growth of wearable devices, especially smart wearable devices, may further expand the market scope over the forecast period. Cisco estimated the number of connected wearables, worldwide, to surpass 900 million by 2021.
- The recent outbreak of COVID-19 may impact the market's growth. The COVID-19 outbreak is causing electronic manufacturers major delays, as suppliers based in China have struggled to keep factories running at full speed. Many electronic manufacturers based in the United States or Europe depend on certain components built by suppliers in China. IPC, an electronic equipment trade organization, ran a survey in February, in which 65% of the 150 electronic manufactures and suppliers who participated reported delays from suppliers, due to the spread of COVID-19.
Key Market Trends
3D Integration in Healthcare is Expected to Drive the Market
- 3D printing is advancing, and it has a wide range of applications, including 3D printed flexible electronic devices in the healthcare sector. 3D printers can be used for the direct printing of biomedical devices onto the human skin and can help build flexible electronic sensors to measure body pressure. These printers are expected to improve sensation in prosthetic hands and surgical robotic arms.
- Additionally, a 3D printed flexible electrical glove can be used to provide comfortable thermotherapy for patients, as the heat formed by these flexible electronic devices can treat injury points by enhancing the blood flow and reducing pain.
- These 3D printed flexible electronic devices have various applications in the fields of prosthetic organs for the disabled. In July 2018, Humanity & Inclusion (a French-based NGO) took up the initiative of fabricating approximately 100 orthopedic electronic devices for those in need in Madagascar, Togo, Mali, and Niger.
Europe to Witness the Fastest Growth Rate
- Europe is the fastest-growing region in the flexible electronics market. The increasing demand for smart wearables, combined with consumer electronics, is driving the demand for flexible electronics in the region. For example, according to Ericsson, the smartphone subscription in Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe during 2019 stood at 390 million and 350 million respectively. By 2025, the subscription is expected to reach 490 million and 500 million, respectively.
- For instance, Zinergy UK Ltd announced a new flexible 3V Zinc-Carbon series at the Wearable Technology Show (WTS) 2019. The offering finds applications in temperature and freshness monitoring for goods, as well as asset tracking.
- Apart from this, there are various government initiatives that are expected to not only drive the demand for electronics but also set up industries with various investments. For instance, the electronic strategy adopted by the EU in 2013 was aimed at maintaining the region at the leading edge in the design and manufacturing of micro and nanoelectronics. The strategy facilitated the industry with an investment of EUR 100 billion until the end of 2020.
- The automotive industry is exxpected to be another major driver for the demand for flexible electronics over the coming years.
The flexible electronics market is fragmented. Manufacturers, focusing primarily on the development of efficient flexible electronics, are offering technologically innovative products that provide a variety of benefits related to power efficiency and product design. Industry players are investing in R&D, in order to strengthen their market positions. Key players in the market are E Ink Holdings Inc., Blue Spark Technologies, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, etc.
- September 2019 - OLEDWorks announced the addition of Nadarra Lighting as the newest member of their Channel Partner Program. The Channel Partner Program provides early adopters expanded access to OLEDWorks' OLED light technology, engineering mindshare, marketing and sales advocacy, and more.
- June 2019 - E Ink Holdings Inc., the leading innovator of electronic ink technology, announced a strategic investment in Plastic Logic HK, the newly formed fabless designer and manufacturer of flexible, glass-free electrophoretic displays (EPDs), focused on Organic TFT (OTFT) technology that is suitable for developing flexible EPD devices for wearables applications.
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