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Key presentations from companies like Boeing highlight FLEX Conference and Exhibition 2022, held in concert with the annual SEMICON West show this week in San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
SEMICON West claims to be “North America’s premier microelectronics exhibition and conference,” uniting players across the entire electronics manufacturing and design supply chain.
The FLEX Conference, tucked into an alcove near the front entrance to SEMICON, boasts about 25 vendors and three presentations areas for papers and tech talks. This compact arrangement feels just about right within the expanse of SEMICON.
The aim of the FLEX Conference is to feature the latest advances in flexible and printed electronics, including applications that deepen interactions between users and their surroundings, including innovations emerging from public-private partnerships.
Now, those R&D efforts are just beginning to roll out. While the series of keynotes on Tuesday offered plenty calls to action, the most compelling was by John D. Williams, a Technical Fellow at Boeing, whose presentation was titled “Multilayer Flexible Electronic Devices for IoT and RF Applications.”
He outlined several flex designs and capabilities that Boeing R&D has developed and turned into replicable processes required for the flexible electronics Boeing aircraft need—and for which Boeing is looking for manufacturers to take on that work. To me, the message from Boeing is: If you build this, we will buy it.
In addition to the wide range of exhibitors and conference presentation, the FLEX Conference also includes university level research and presentations, providing academic R&D room to showcase their work as well. Presenters aim to speak about materials, application, and market outlook of flexible electronics.
If this show proves anything, it’s that while printed electronics has been working quietly in the background, I expect to see some major strides occurring over the next couple of years.
Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
We recently conducted a roundtable with a team of printed electronic circuit experts from companies that run the gamut: John Lee and Kevin Miller of Insulectro, Mike Wagner of Butler Technologies, Tom Bianchi of Eastprint, and John Voultos of Sheldahl Flexible Technologies.
In this third and final installment of the roundtable, these experts discuss some of the differences and similarities between PEC and traditional PCB processes, the future of printed electronic circuits, and why the best way to learn about this technology is through networking with veterans of this segment who are eager to share their expertise with the next generation.
Malcolm Thompson, NextFlex
The chip shortage is by no means over, with estimates expecting it will last into 2023. Some could see it taking even longer, such as Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, who expects it to see shortages into 2024 due to those now impacting electronics production equipment. But if there’s any bright spot to be had, it’s that a crisis often leads to long-term solutions. In this case, it’s the increase in government funding for semiconductor production in the United States. Once the CHIPS Act proceeds, we can significantly accelerate building semiconductor fabs in the United States and work toward preventing future chip shortages that would put us back into our current situation.
Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
We recently held a roundtable with a team of printed electronic circuit experts from companies that run the gamut: John Lee and Kevin Miller of Insulectro, Mike Wagner of Butler Technologies, Tom Bianchi of Eastprint, and John Voultos of Sheldahl Flexible Technologies. In the first part of this roundtable, the team dispelled a variety of myths surrounding PEC. In this second part of the roundtable, the participants discuss what designers and fabricators need to know to jump into printed electronics, and some of the drivers behind this growing technology.