January 3, 2007 – Taiwan’s government-funded Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has set an aggressive budget over the next two years to support research and development of flexible electronic technologies and products, according to the Taiwan Economic News.
Many bottlenecks in flexible electronics materials, device design, and production processes have already been addressed, noted Tang Yu-hwa, project manger of Industrial Economics & Knowledge Center (IEK) under ITRI, quoted by the Taiwan paper. The IEK estimates the flexible electronics market will mature in 2008, with sales rising sharply through 2010. Annual global production could potentially hit $16 billion by 2015, with devices including flexible logic, memory, and display products entering the mainstream.
The ITRI plans to invest about $27.27 million in 2007, and $30.37 million in 2008, for flexible electronic R&D, following similarly aggressive investments in prior years — in 2006 the institute spent about $15 million in 2006 on a new flexible-electronics experiment lab, the paper noted. By 2008 the ITRI aims to have ready its first product — printed passive RFID tags to replace traditional barcode systems — as well as a prototype of static flexible-display signage. More high-level static flexible display products such as e-paper and e-newspapers are expected by around 2010, with advances to big-screen TVs possible by 2015.
Flex circuits or flex circuit boards enable deposition of electronic devices on flexible substrates such as plastic, which can be used for circuit boards, or to replace LCD glass substrates with thin plastics or metal foils. Another product goal is the e-book, which could be based on organic materials and flexible substrates to create a more lower-power, portable product.