https://innovateuk.blog.gov.uk/2016/09/19/meet-our-customers-flexenable/

Activating surfaces with flexible displays and sensors

Have you ever wondered how our lives would change if surfaces could be brought to life? For example, surfaces from clothes and accessories to car interiors and furniture.

Undoubtedly, this would make the way we interact with objects more intuitive and personalised, and most likely improve our lives.

Technology designed to enable active surfaces everywhere and anywhere

We have developed a flexible electronics technology that is designed to enable active surfaces everywhere and anywhere.

The core of this technology lies in the ability to put organic transistors on plastic film the thickness of a sheet of paper.

Video rate displays and sensor arrays are the major applications of our technology that allows making them flexible.

As they are important components in many consumer products, flexible displays and sensors have the potential to transform consumer electronic devices, perhaps more than any other technology breakthrough in the past 20 years.

Flexible organic materials

While conventional electronics are based on amorphous silicon transistors, we use transistors made of organic materials that are themselves fundamentally flexible.

Moreover, we have replaced the glass substrate with plastic to enable flexible displays and sensors that are ultra-thin, light and shatterproof.

This technology brings unique benefits to products and manufacturing processes that simply aren't possible with silicon thin-film transistors.

Game-changing products

The versatile applications of flexible displays and sensors can be used across markets such as:

  • wearables
  • automotive
  • digital signage
  • home consumer electronics
  • medical
  • security

These applications lead to a market forecast of $20 billion by 2020, and we are working with customers using flexible displays and sensor prototypes made in our Cambridge headquarters for their future products.

There are some clear examples where new form factors and design freedom are clearly needed.

Now, we can address these issues thanks to flexible electronics. For instance:

  1. Automotive: almost all new cars have displays inside them, and very often this is the only flat surface in the vehicle – everything else is curved. Integrating a plastic display that can be conformed to the car interior will remove this constraint.
  1. Wearables: by making these conformable to the body, wearables will become more comfortable and unobtrusive. New use cases will become possible, which won’t be limited to smartwatches and fitness trackers, but will also extend to clothes and fashion accessories.
  1. Digital signage: flexible display technology brings several functional and technical benefits to this sector. It removes the limitations of where and how displays can be installed; using plastic instead of glass means that the displays are light and conformable while offering the same image quality and video rate capability as LCD displays.
Meet our customers - Flexenable, flexible surfaces on furniture
Example of flexible surfaces on furniture
  1. Biometrics: another important application of FlexEnable’s technology is fingerprint sensors for biometric applications that will benefit from flexibility for large areas and will be able to wrap around surfaces. For more traditional applications such as fingerprint scanners, plastic sensors’ appeal lies in their lightness, thinness and robustness.
  1. Healthcare: we can expect to see major applications of flexible electronics in healthcare where it could be used for the development of new X-ray image and pressure sensors which are lighter, more robust and flexible.

Funding helped us further develop a supply chain

Being at the forefront of technological innovation with a platform technology, FlexEnable is playing a central role in continuing to develop the supply chain for flexible electronics.

Through our involvement with Innovate UK, we have been able to freely collaborate with other industry partners and to further develop a supply chain, whilst promoting the printed and flexible electronics industry and contribute to its ongoing success.

Enabling a new generation of flexible displays and sensors globally

The processes we have developed are compatible with existing display manufacturing lines and our current focus is on transferring the technology to our Asian manufacturing partners to enable a new wave of displays and sensors.

If you are working on a product that requires truly flexible electronics, please get in touch with us!

Contact us

You can follow Innovate UK on: