Backgrounder - Printable Electronics Program and Consortium

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Printable electronics is an emerging field at the intersection of two well-established Canadian industries: information and communications technology, and printing. It combines new materials with existing processes to print functioning devices on flexible surfaces such as plastic or paper, offering Canadians an enhanced and more up-to-date printing experience. Printable electronics presents a transformative opportunity to add intelligence to printed products, and to enable lower cost digital manufacturing of ubiquitous electronic devices that will transform industries and markets.

Examples of existing printable electronics:

  • Buttons on microwaves
  • Rear car window defroster

Examples of innovative products to be developed:

  • Smart labels that lower shipping costs through wireless supply chain management;
  • Anti-counterfeiting measures that will increase bank note security;
  • Self-powered solar blinds;
  • Printed Near Field Communications or Radio Frequency Identification antennas;
  • Smart drug packaging that will prompt you to take your daily pill.

The Printable Electronics program will develop new functional inks and printing/imprinting processes, and will produce electronic circuits to be integrated into everyday objects. The program’s long term goal is to position the packaging, commercial and security printing industries to be early adopters of emerging printable solutions making them global leaders. This will be done through a coordinated approach by engaging or creating Canadian industry supply chains. The program will drive the adoption of previously unavailable information and communication technologies, offering many different benefits.

The Printable Electronics consortium is a joint effort integrating the best in public and private research and development expertise in the printable electronic industry. Canadian industrial players have indicated a strong drive to participate in the program to innovate in applications such as:

  • Widespread electronic interactive devices—everyday objects embedded with low cost electronics for multi-use functions
  • Drug packaging that tracks dosage history
  • Interactive packaging for consumer goods that enhances the brand experience

Players include:

  • Krupack Packaging, a division of Kruger
  • Xerox Research Centre of Canada, a division of Xerox Canada Inc.
  • GGI International
  • RFID Canada
  • Jones Packaging Inc.
  • Communication Research Centre Canada (part of Industry Canada Spectrum, Information Technology and Telecommunications (SITT))
  • MW Canada Ltd.
  • Canadian Bank Note Company Ltd.