Gearing up for standardization

IEC TC 119 Working Groups dealing with standardization on printed electronics

By Dr Alan Hodgson, Chair IEC TC 119

Printed electronics is set to revolutionize the electronics industry and many other domains. It will prove a disruptive, yet creative process that will allow the production of new low-cost electronic devices. Equipment, substrates and printing processes are already widely available. IEC TC 119 was set up in 2011 to prepare International Standards in the field of printed electronics. Its Chairman, Dr Alan Hodgson, provides an update on the set up of the TC structure.

Flexible organic ohotovoltaic cell (Photo: Fraunhofer ISE) Flexible organic ohotovoltaic cell (Photo: Fraunhofer ISE)

Working groups set up and active

“The work of IEC TC 119 is progressing well and the Committee is starting to establish some formal structure,” says Dr Alan Hodgson, Chair for IEC TC 119: Printed Electronics. TC 119, dealing with standardization of terminology, materials, processes, equipment, products and health/safety/environment in the field of printed electronics, now has four working groups with three other groups that could yet achieve that status. These working groups are now active and conducting meetings separate to the plenary sessions. As an example WG 3: Equipment, and WG 4: Printability, have arranged a meeting together at a common location in Tokyo, Japan.

There are two working groups that should be of particular interest to the OE-A (Organic and Printed Electronics Association) community, Hodgson says. WG 2: Materials, is currently working in two major areas, he goes on to explain further. The first is standards for printed electronics substrates with the focus currently being on glass and polymer media. “I would urge readers with interest in other substrates such as paper and inkjet media to look into this work and consider involvement.”

WG 3: Equipment, is setting standards for both contact and non-contact fabrication. Current work includes dimensions of printing plates and the patterns thereon and performance metrics for inkjet heads in Printed Electronics applications.

Membership and meetings

Involvement in International Standards activity is organized by country. TC 119 currently has 12 nations actively participating with one more currently seeking association. There are also seven countries observing this work.

The next full meeting of TC 119 will take place in Cambridge, United Kingdom, on 17-19 March 2014. It will be followed by a meeting “Manufacturing for Printed Electronics” on 20 March and visits to local institutions on 21 March.

About printed electronics

Printed electronics is fast emerging and set to revolutionize many industrial applications. It consists in the creation of electronic devices and components using various printing methods, equipment and material.

This technology makes it possible to produce a wide variety of products that can be used in countless applications. It has other advantages, such as much lower production costs than for conventional electronics and it can be applied to flexible or rigid supports (or substrates).

Printed electronics transforms the way electronic devices are made and employed. Using materials (inks and substrates) that have conducting, semiconducting, non-conducting, electroluminescent, PV (photovoltaic) or other properties, and different printing methods (e.g. lithography, inkjet, or screen printing,) allows great design flexibility and possibilities.

Both inorganic and organic materials are used for printed electronics. Organic materials can be found in products such as OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) displays used in televisions sets, computer monitors or mobile phones, and OPVC (organic PV cells).

Innovative materials such as carbon nanotubes allow new or enhanced applications for batteries, new types of solar cells, ultracapacitors and electrical circuits.

Engineers throughout the world use printed electronics to design a variety of components and products, such as TFT (thin film transistor), flexible displays that can be unfolded to make up a large television, PV (photovoltaic) cells that fit windows or the roofs of cars or innovative and energy-efficient lighting solutions.

Flexible organic ohotovoltaic cell (Photo: Fraunhofer ISE) Flexible organic ohotovoltaic cell (Photo: Fraunhofer ISE)
Carbon nanotubes are used to make printed electronic products Carbon nanotubes are used to make printed electronic products
Printed electronic component Printed electronic component