By Michael Ciesinski, President, SEMI | FlexTech Group
“No drawing but a dream… a vision─ that’s what customers show up with…” according to Anwar Mohammed, Senior Director from the EMS company. That statement perfectly captures the insights and enthusiasm at 2017FLEX, the Flexible Electronics Conference & Exhibition produced by SEMI’s FlexTech group, on June 19-22, in Monterey, California. Mohammed, along with Jason Marsh, Director of Technology at NextFlex, went on to describe the challenges and solutions for manufacturing wearable devices.
Brian Shieh, VP/GM of Applied Materials opened 2017FLEX with his own perspective, which is that humans crave information and the display is the window between humans and the information universe. He noted that display innovation has changed over the last 10 years from LCD scaling to mobile platform performance. Consequently, materials innovation is now driving the display industry, especially for flexible displays.
On the application side, eHealth technology, described by David Bordonada of Libelium, can dramatically impact the lives of people and populations who have no access to health care. Capturing blood pressure, respiration rate, skin temperature, glucose levels and other data points comprise the basic aspects of telemedicine. Flexible electronics devices are a key enabler of new medical technologies.
The “Internet of Tomatoes” presentation at 2017FLEX was essentially all about food and sensors, and capturing and acting on data. Francis Gouillart from the Experience Co-Creation Project commented that the future of agriculture innovation is frugal and will come from the bottom of the pyramid. He challenged the audience to develop inexpensive sensors that can help farmers produce better tasting, less commodity driven food products.
The final speaker for the plenary session was Dean Freeman from Gartner. While still somewhat skeptical about the application of flexible electronics, Freeman explained numerous opportunities including display/signage, medical/healthcare, power/batteries, and wearables for performance and comfort.
The 2017FLEX technology conference featured 100+ presentations in 26 sessions, while 50+ exhibits on the show floor generated a strong product buzz. Prominent among the technology tracks were sessions focused on substrates, conductors, 3D printing, and manufacturing. Applications tracks included displays, sensors, asset monitoring and human monitoring, and military and security requirements.
With registration at 625+ for the second consecutive year, it is clear that FLEX has created a strong following and SEMI I FlexTech is positioned as a leader of the global flexible electronics community. As part of SEMI, FlexTech and the MEMS and Sensors Industry Group are taking full advantage of SEMI’s global platforms. We see expansion of the Flexible and Printed Electronics Conference into South East Asia (FLEX SEA) and Japan (FLEX Japan), while strengthening existing programs in Europe and Korea. SEMI is helping to create new communities for flexible electronics and MEMS and sensors, and thereby creating new values for all our members.
Below: Additional photos from 2017FLEX.