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CONTENTS & COMMENT CONTENTS


Front cover The publishers would like to thank MDL Technologies Limited for the use of their images on the front cover of Electronics Testing 2018


The move to sustainable sources of energy is breeding a new generation of connection products to withstand harsh environments.


2 & 3 Wind Energy 5 Flexible production


technology Photo-ionisation detector supplier chooses flexible pick and place technology for producing its wide range of PCBs


6 Artificial intelligence Neural networks and artificial intelligence are transforming Non-Destructive Testing with automated inspection.


9 Moulded alternative


to PCBs Direct deposition of circuitry onto polymer materials creates new electronic posibilities across a range of industries.


10 Technology events Important dates for your diary.


12 Non-brittle


smartphone screens Silver and Graphene could be the answer to overcoming the problem of brittle materials leading to smartphone screen breakages.


15, 16 & 18 Company Guide A guide to Electronics Testing related suppliers.


20 A new spin on wireless


communications Scientists are exploring photon spinning as a way of propogating more complex signals in wireless networks.


© Concorde Publishing Ltd 2018 Join us online at https://goo.gl/inAElE or scan the QR Code, right Follow us on Twitter @eeonlineorg The source guide for engineers, scientists and technicians


The big stretch T


he electronic industry is in the midst of a major shift: novel form factors are emerging, ranging from the introduction of limited “stretchability”,


through to ultra-elastic and conformable electronics. This transfiguration has been in the making for more than a decade, but it is only now that it is beginning to make a substantial commercial impact. The IDTechEx Research report, Stretchable Electronics 2017-2027,


predicts that stretchable electronics will become a $600m market by 2027. Many opponents have long argued that this entire class of emerging


materials/components is a case of technology-push – a solution looking for a problem. This view may have been justified in the early days, but we could now see this trend as an essential step towards structural electronics and one that will lead to a root-and- branch change of the electronic industry. Stretchable and conformable electronics involves basic and


comparatively more mature technologies such as inks, transparent conductive films and sensors, but also more complex devices such as transistors, batteries, energy harvesters and displays. For example, a few years ago the conductive ink business appeared very


mature and slow moving. The boom years of the photovoltaic industry were ending, the dominant big suppliers were well entrenched. Then everything began to change. For example, the leadership in the photovoltaic market started to change hands, establishing a more diversified supplier base. The market requirements for touch screen edge electrodes became more stringent, forcing the industry to innovate in fine line inks to stay in the game. Strong competition showed its adverse effects on market shares and margins all around. All this convinced suppliers to change strategy. Suppliers, from big to small, focused on diverse nascent emerging markets, hoping to seed and enable the next big market. Products became broad out of the necessity to meet the diverse set of emerging requirements. The industry had started to innovate again. Conductive ink technology is key in helping the transition taking place in the wearable technology world: wearable devices are finally becoming truly wearable. Currently, the rigid-component-in-a-box is still prevalent, but the industry is slowly transitioning towards stretchable and comfortable devices. The supplier base of stretchable inks has expanded in the past three years; the new inks are much higher performing compared to the earlier generation, and numerous prototype and even commercial products have been launched. Stretchable printed inks on textiles need to satisfy new requirements in terms of stretching, washability and substrate compatibility. But the industry is still in its infancy and does not yet have common figures-of-merit or performance targets. This will be an exciting space to watch in the coming years even if it gets off to a slow commercial start. New product testing regimes will be needed to assess the early products in the area – an exciting time for environmental engineers


Andy Pye, Editor


Concorde Publishing Ltd 100 Borough High Street, London SE1 1LB, UK Tel: +44 (0)20 7863 3079 Email: electronicstesting@concordepublishing.com Web: www.EnvironmentalEngineering.org.uk


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