The world of semiconductors, displays, computers, printers, cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), circuit boards, and many other electronic devices may soon experience a paradigm shift away from silicon chips, according to Glenn Sanders, VP of development at Rolltronics. The company has pioneered a new approach to electronics manufacturing by producing thin-film electronic devices on flexible substrates using roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques. "The first applications will probably involve flexible back planes for IT and PDA devices," says Sanders. Using roll-to-roll manufacturing, Rolltronics plans to work with private companies developing Internet devices, medical imaging equipment, electronic ID tags, electronic books and paper, and a variety of other "transformational" products. Other potential applications include logic, wireless, power, memory, and display components. The devices are constructed as a "sandwich" of five or six thin layers (such as the plastic used in overhead transparencies) laminated into a single unit. "We're still in the prototyping phase, but we expect to have test units in a year and small production quantities in 18 months," says Sanders. For more information, visit the Rolltronics web site at www.rolltronics.com.
Sales of semiconductors, interconnects, and other electronic components in North America were flat through the second quarter of 2015, reflecting a pattern that’s been repeating itself for several years.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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