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Flexible multi-functional timer based on printed electronics

ID TechEx : 28 March, 2014  (New Product)
A consortium of partners is to launch what is believed to be the world's first flexible timer based on printed electronics at the IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe event in Berlin, April 1-2. The device consists of an electronic logic circuit implemented with thin film metal oxide transistors, powered by a printed battery, and integrated onto a paper substrate. It has four timing sequences and is designed for multi-functional use across four different applications.
Flexible multi-functional timer based on printed electronics
Led by IDTechEx, partners included consumer goods company Procter & Gamble, printed logic company PragmatIC, printed battery supplier Blue Spark Technologies, conductive ink and photonic curing equipment supplier NovaCentrix and Cal Poly, who designed and printed on the paper substrate. 
Four different application sets were created: a workout timer, a cooking timer, a meeting timer and a children's activity timer. Each has four individually controlled timing options, activated by bending or "dog-earing" one of the corners of the paper substrate.
The initial production demonstrates how new applications of electronics in novel form factors can be enabled by printed electronics. Follow-on manufacturing is already planned for later in 2014, including enhancements to the functionality and even greater integration of the printed electronics. 
Raghu Das, CEO, of technology scouting and events firm IDTechEx, states "We set out to create an integrated, fully functional device that has strong value and need. Involving end user P&G provided valuable insight into consumer requirements, which resulted in specifying and delivering the world's first flexible multi-use timer based on commercially available printed electronics. A timer is one of the basic building blocks that will enable many different products in a modular approach. To reflect that, timers were created for different applications to demonstrate the wide applicability of the device."
Printed Electrlnics Europe
Conference attendees to Printed Electronics Europe on 1-2 April in Berlin will have the chance to receive the timer on a first-come, first-serve basis, after visiting the companies involved in the project in the tradeshow.
The conference and tradeshow brings together end users with suppliers - where "pull" and "push" balance - to provide attendees with that critical insight into the driving needs for the technology, in addition to appraisal of all the key enabling materials, components and manufacturing processes. Leading end users exploring printed electronics, such as Hasbro, Diageo, Electrolux, Boeing, De La Rue, Abbott Diagnostics, Decathlon and Stora Enso, will present their needs and programs.
Project Partners
PragmatIC Printing enables printed electronic logic circuits that introduce intelligence and interactivity into a wide range of products and applications, in form factors that are not possible using silicon chips. PragmatIC's intellectual property covers unique device architectures, process techniques, and circuit designs that enable flexible imprinted logic circuits with compact footprint, high performance and low cost.
PragmatIC Printing operates a pilot line at the UK's National Centre for Printable Electronics, part of the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI). The pilot line supports customer prototyping activities as well as commercial production for deployment of new product concepts. PragmatIC also licenses its technology for higher volume production. 
Blue Spark Technologies specialises in developing flexible, printed, "green," proprietary power sources for battery-powered printed electronic systems. The company was founded as Thin Battery Technologies in 2002 with patented technology from Energizer (Eveready Battery Company). Blue Spark target markets include: interactive packaging, RFID, pharmaceutical, powered smart cards and novelty items. 
NovaCentrix, based in Austin, Texas, specialises in printed electronics manufacturing technologies. The PulseForge photonic curing tools dry, sinter, and anneal functional inks in milliseconds on low-temperature, flexible substrates such as paper and plastic. The tools process a wide array of metal-based conductive inks, as well as non-metallic and semiconductor inks, and are available with the integrated material and tool simulation package SimPulse. NovaCentrix also offers Metalon conductive inks, including the ICI copper-oxide reduction inks which work optimally with PulseForge tools. NovaCentrix also offers printing services with its in-house inkjet, screen ,and flexographic presses. 
The Printed Electronics and Functional Imaging programmes oCalifornia Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) were established in the Graphic Communication Department. Founded in 1946, the department is one of the largest and best-known programmes of its kind in the United States. The department offers undergraduate education in graphic communication, emphasizing technology and design applications and how they intersect in printed and non-printed media. Cal Poly's programmes in Printed Electronics and Functional Imaging focus on conductive and reactive ink applications for conventional and novel printing of flexible devices. The programs are strongly supported by industry with grants, endowments, equipment, supplies and software for the department's 33,000 square feet of modern laboratories.
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