Thin, flexible and reliable: these are the qualities with which organic and printed electronics are currently conquering car building.
“As the share of electronics in the car grows steadily, printed electronics are indispensable,” says Dr. Klaus Hecker, managing director of the industry association and co-organizer of LOPEC OE-A (Association of Organic and Printed Electronics), an international working group within the VDMA.
A conventional premium car is saturated with electronic control systems and cables that weigh up to 250 kilograms and take up a lot of space, increasing fuel consumption or, in the case of an electronic car, electricity consumption. According to Hecker, the limit has been reached: “On the contrary, printed electronics are lightweight and offer unexpected technical and design capabilities with reduced space requirements.”
Under the theme of mobility, LOPEC presents innovations for the transport sector.
“At LOPEC, we will see that printed electronics has made the leap to mass production,” Hacker said.
For example, the LOPEC Innovation Showcase will show a series-produced steering wheel from VW with a built-in control module. At the back of the plastic user interface is a film printed with touch sensors.
LOPEC member IEE Luxembourg, a pioneer in the field of printed sensors, already manufactures millions of sensors for car seats. A member of LOPEC InnovationLab from Heidelberg / Germany has also developed similar sensors. Seats equipped with these sensors detect seat occupancy and remind the passenger to fasten their seat belts or deactivate the airbag if they detect a child seat.
InnovationLab will also introduce a sensor system for battery researchers. It includes films with printed temperature and pressure sensors that are located between the individual elements of the battery. They provide data from inside the battery, which is very important to improve its performance and extend its life.
Printed electronics is driving the transition to mobility and at the same time impresses with amazing design options. For example, BMW has made a dream come true about a car body that changes color at the touch of a button. With the BMW iX Flow concept car, the automaker has recently demonstrated that it is already technically possible to switch at least between white, black and shades of gray. The basis for this is technology well known to e-book readers, as explained by Pete Valiyanatas of E Ink at the LOPEC conference.
“The automotive industry is already one of the largest markets for flexible and printed electronics,” Hacker said, predicting further growth in the industry. Carmakers are just the beginning. Speaking at the LOPEC conference, Alois Friedberger of Airbus will demonstrate that lightweight electronic components are also particularly in demand in aviation.