Wednesday, 18 Sep 2019

National Printable Electronics Centre exploits the opportunities of IoT

CPI's centre expansion was part-funded with £2.6m from the European Regional Development Fund, further funding was also contributed by CPI via the Catapult programme and the SCOPE project

9 May 2018 | Editor

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has expanded the capabilities of its National Printable Electronics Centre to assist companies in exploiting the commercial opportunities offered by the Internet of Things (IoT).

Expected to be worth £3.8 - £10.8 trillion per year by 20251, the IoT's ability to connect mainstream products via the cloud may be essential for electronics companies to develop new business models.

CPI has new equipment and expertise that will enable companies to design, develop and demonstrate the manufacture of new concepts and participate in this high growth area.

Located in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, the new facility provides open access centre for the commercialisation of innovative connected printed electronics. Utilising this facility expansion, product designers will be able to embed sensing and connectivity into their designs.

This will enable the creation of products containing very thin electronics that will be wireless, smarter, interactive, conformable, thinner, lightweight, and, thanks to CPI’s new facilities, rapidly produced at high volumes and low cost.

Specific applications could include packaging that can track and trace goods, monitor the condition of the contents, or interact with the consumer. An example of where this is already being implemented is in the distribution of temperature sensitive medicines.

The new capabilities at the National Printable Electronics Centre include a roll-to-roll machine that integrates thin film and conventional electronics onto flexible films. This upgrade allows the creation of rolls of thin, flexible inlays containing multiple electronic components, expediting manufacturing. These flexible electronics can then be converted into labels, or embedded into smart products or wearables, for IoT applications.

The electronics may include sensors, processing, transmission, communications technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC) and Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID), and energy sources and emerging electronics used for data collection.

This end-to-end production process positions CPI to help companies on the journey from concept through design, development, and pilot scale production, and onto creating products at production volumes needed for market sample seeding.

The low cost of these flexible, thin form electronics, and rapid rate of production using CPI’s bespoke equipment, provides a wide range of applications for the next generation of integrated, flexible components.

CPI recently officially opened the facility with tours for key stakeholders.

CPI's centre expansion was part-funded with £2.6m from the European Regional Development Fund. Further funding was also contributed by CPI via the Catapult programme and the SCOPE project: a collaborative project involving industry and co-funded by the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI).

"Our 'environmentally-friendly' printable inks, which can create smart pressure sensing surfaces and 3D Force Touch without costing the earth, have had an incredible launch with CPI’s assistance. Its first-class facilities have enabled us to develop our new products, which have just won two awards in Europe."

"Quantum Technology Supersensors received support from CPI to launch a new sensor, the help has been invaluable."

Josephine Charnley, Co-founder of Quantum Technology Supersensors

"Thanks to these new resources, CPI is now uniquely placed to provide clients with thin, flexible electronics at an unparalleled scale on an open access basis."

"With the Internet of Things developing fast, CPI is now even better prepared with this investment in design and manufacturing capability to meet the market’s future technological needs."

John Cocker, Director of Printable Electronics at CPI

Note: 1The Internet of Things: Mapping the Value beyond the Hype; McKinsey & Company, 2015


About Centre for Process Innovation (CPI)

The Centre for Process Innovation is a UK-based technology innovation centre and is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. The company uses applied knowledge in science and engineering combined with state of the art development facilities to enable its clients to develop, prove, prototype and scale up the next generation of products and processes.

Established to support the UK process manufacturing industry, CPI collaborates with universities, SMEs and large corporations to help overcome innovation challenges. Operating across a broad range of technologies, partners are supported at every stage; from concept to market; business support to technology development; and from scale up to supply chain intervention.

CPI consists of dedicated national innovation centres that support industrial biotechnology and biorefining, printable electronics, biologics and formulation. The centres enable advancements in major markets such as healthcare, electronics, food and drink, aerospace, automotive, materials, and energy. These world leading, digitally enabled and open access facilities are available for partners to get their products and processes to market quickly with minimal risk. Utilising strong networks, CPI brings together a range of partners in the delivery of innovation projects, with a common goal of strengthening the UK’s position in High Value Manufacturing.

Source: Centre for Process Innovation (CPI)

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