The consumption of traditional printed media, in particular newspapers, has decreased continuously in North America and Europe and the profitability of the printing and graphic paper industry is under threat. The rapid evolution of electronic media for information and communication purposes, in particular smart phones and tablet computers, has displaced printed media from its pre-eminent role. The challenge is to develop new business concepts and new generations of valueadded paper-based printed products that use wood fibres, wood-fibre sheets and printed electronics in the fabrication of e-paper products. Future printed media may serve as a port to the internet offering advantages to consumers and publishers, as well as the possibility to develop value-adding services. Smart phones, tablets and other kinds of computers with web cameras can be used for scanning codes, text or images to connect printed with electronic media. Presumably, papermaking processes need to be modified in terms of sheet properties and, in particular, surface properties.
State of the Art 2012
Electronics can be printed on various substrates such as plastic, paper or board. Printed electronics are used where large surfaces, flexible substrates, simple fabrication and low cost are preferred, such as flexible and conformable displays (posters, large area displays) and smart labels or packaging. A large variety of promising electronic printed product concepts are under development. Possible future products include power generation devices, electronic wallpapers, flexible OLED TV, flexible lighting elements, electronic product codes, product identification systems, electronic multimedia, intelligent sensors (temperature, pressure, oxygen, chemical), embedded systems, flexible batteries integrated into packaging systems, complex smart packages and sensors and fuel cells integrated into textiles.
Expected achievements by 2020
Based on a deeper understanding of consumer perception and needs, new business and marketing concepts have been developed to fulfil the information requirements with printed products and combine printed and electronic media. New substrate properties allow high-precision printing of electronics on fibre-based structures at competitive prices. Printing and packaging technologies will converge further. Smart electronic functions printed on packaging include applications for monitoring and indicating product safety or freshness, to protect branding and support logistics.
Required Research and Innovation Activities
A. Investigate consumer perception and trends in the use and the acceptance of features based on combined electronic and printed media.
B. Develop high-precision paper substrates and surfaces that enable the printing of electronics and safeguard their functionality and durability.
C. Develop technologies for high-precision and cost-efficient printing of electronics or electric or magnetic features on fibrous structures or wood-based surfaces.
D. Develop smart and intelligent features for applications based on printed electronics or printed biosensors, e.g. in packaging.
E. Develop design concepts for ensuring recyclability of hybrid products and technologies for the separation and reuse of used material components.
F. Develop business concepts that exploit the advertising possibilities of the integration of printed and electronic media, and use shopping features to print media products by direct connection to internet shopping sites.