LOPEC 2022: Printed electronics for the mobility transition


In times of upheaval, the automotive and aviation industry is focusing on printed electronics. Under the focus topic of Mobility, LOPEC, the international trade fair and conference for flexible, organic and printed electronics, will showcase innovations for traffic on land and in the air. LOPEC will be held from 22-24 March 2022 in the ICM – Internationales Congress Center München at the Messe München Exhibition Centre.

Wafer-thin, flexible and reliable: These are the qualities with which organic and printed electronics are currently conquering vehicle construction. “With the share of electronics in the car rising steadily, there is no getting past printed electronics,” says Dr Klaus Hecker, the managing director of the industry association and LOPEC co-host OE-A (Organic and Printed Electronics Association), an international working group within VDMA. A conventional premium class vehicle is packed with electronic control systems and cables that weigh up to 250 kilogrammes and take up a lot of space, driving up the fuel or, in the case of the e-car, electricity consumption. The limit has been reached, in Klaus Hecker’s opinion: “By contrast, printed electronics are lightweight and offer unexpected technical and design possibilities with reduced space requirements.”

Under the focus topic of Mobility, LOPEC is presenting innovations for the transport sector. Hecker announces: “At LOPEC, we will see that printed electronics has made the leap to mass production.” The LOPEC Innovation Showcase, for instance, will be showing a mass-produced steering wheel from VW with an integrated control module. A film printed with touch sensors is applied from behind to the user interface made of plastic.

LOPEC exhibitor IEE Luxembourg, a pioneer in the field of printed sensors, is already producing millions of sensors for car seats. LOPEC exhibitor InnovationLab from Heidelberg, Germany, has also developed sensors like these. Seats equipped with these sensors detect seat occupancy and remind the occupant to put on the seat belt or deactivate the airbag if they detect a child seat. InnovationLab will also be presenting a sensor system for battery researchers. It comprises films with printed temperature and pressure sensors that are placed between the individual battery cells. They supply data from inside the battery that is vital for improving its performance and extending its lifetime.

Printed electronics are driving the mobility transition and, at the same time, impressing with surprising design options. BMW, for example, has now turned the dream of the car body that changes its colour at the push of a button into reality. By means of the concept car BMW iX Flow, the automaker recently demonstrated that it is already technically possible to switch at least between white, black and shades of grey. The basis for this is a technology that is well known from e-book readers, as Pete Valianatos from the U.S. company E Ink will explain at the LOPEC Conference.

“Vehicle construction is already one of the largest markets for flexible and printed electronics,” says Hecker, and he forecasts further growth in this area. Automakers are just the beginning. In his talk at the LOPEC Conference, Alois Friedberger from Airbus will demonstrate that lightweight electronic components are also especially in demand in aviation.

Whether on land or in the air, printed electronics provide more safety, sustainability and comfort in traffic. There is nowhere better to find out about what is already being commercially implemented today, which new products are almost ready for the market, and how printed electronics will shape tomorrow’s mobility than at LOPEC in Munich.

Caption: BMW and E Ink realise the dream of a car that changes colour at the touch of a button (photo: Tom Kirkpatrick / BMW AG)

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