Dresden Factory Aims to Commercialize e-Reading

CAMBRIDGE, U.K. – Plastic Logic, which produces plastic substrates, garnered funding from a variety of equity sources to open a factory for commercial production of plastic electronics, specifically, the flexible active-matrix display modules of electronic readers. The plastic substrate technology – the result of research at Cambridge University – is a build-up process used to create light, flexible printed circuits. It is part of a new electronics sector that will join silicon – not replace it – in the industry, said Hermann Hauser, director of Amadeus, an investment firm that provided seed financing to Plastic Logic.

Along with Amadeus’ contribution, $100 million in equity financing from Oak Investment Partners, Tudor Investment Corporation, Intel Capital, Bank of America, BASF, Quest for Growth, and Merifin Capital was raised for a commercial-scale production facility. Located in Dresden, Germany, the facility is slated to begin production in 2008 with about 140 employees.

Wireless “e-readers” require thin, flexible, low-power packages to simulate the tactile experience of reading from paper. With wireless connections, e-readers enable users to download copies of books, newspapers, and other print items, similar to wireless music and video downloads firmly commercialized by various media-player products. Though consumers certainly accept these e-products, they rarely read from PDAs, laptops, or other electronic devices, said Simon Jones, vice president of product development, Plastic Logic, emphasizing the importance of electronic components that maintain the aesthetic benefits of paper. Printing these components in inexpensive build-up processes should enable the commercial profitability promised by the Dresden project.

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