The increase in the use of smartphones and the incorporation of printed electronic solutions and printed logic into consumer products is creating a global billion dollar industry. In 2013, over 967 million smartphones were sold to consumers worldwide and it is projected that by 2019 sales of smartphones will reach over 2 billion.

The capabilities of smartphones and way in which we use them has changed since the first smartphones came onto the market in the late 1990s. Today’s smartphones include touch-screens, high-speed internet access and NFC (near field communications) which has altered the way we interact with people, and objects, conduct business and make purchases.

Phone and Tea

The two and a half year project which began in July 2014 is titled ‘SCOPE’ and is building the manufacturing capability, capacity and skills required to commercialise and position the UK as a world leader in the production of smart products with built-in sensors – a fast growing billion dollar global market.

As the market opportunities and demand to incorporate NFC into smart products grows, so does the demand to produce high-volume printed electronic components at low cost. This is essential to extend the reach of electronic intelligence into everyday objects, where conventional silicon-based electronics is unsuitable.

The aim of SCOPE is to develop new processes, equipment and applications in order to meet the growing demand for high volume (billions or even trillions) units incorporating various components, at low cost. It will also provide a technology platform to develop new, innovative and ultimately more complex and novel functionalities and applications, build skills and capabilities and strengthen the UK supply-chain.

Initial concepts will be carried out to develop low-cost, high volume, printed logic for integration into labels, for smart packaging and product branding on fast moving consumable goods for the end user.