Printed Batteries are Making Waves

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According to a new report from Technavio, the global printed batteries market is going to grow by more than $370 million and post a cumulative average growth rate of 54% from 2014-2019.

Printed batteries are thin, flat, and flexible, and easy to incorporate into small sensors, smart cards, RFID tags, and a rash of other devices.

The technology is still in its early days, but advances in technology—spurred by new research and development—are coming in fast in the printed batteries market.

Technavio takes a peek at five reasons to keep a close eye on this new breed of battery and its emerging applications over the next few years.

Growing demand for wearables

The past year has seen wearables burst loudly onto the scene, with big vendors like Apple, Samsung, ZTE, and Xiaomi all introducing wearable devices like smartwatches, activity trackers, and electronic fitness bands.

But these small devices have created big challenges on the technology side of things, especially when it comes to power supply. Manufacturers are increasingly looking to replace coin cell batteries with printed batteries for power supply, due to their flexible design and compatibility.

In 2014, California-based start-up Imprint Energy received $6 million in venture capital funding from Phoenix Venture Partners for the development of flexible, long lasting, and rechargeable printed batteries for wearables.

Growth in the healthcare sector

Consumer electronics are far from the only application area for printed batteries. In fact, medical implant manufacturers were some of the first end-users to adopt the technology, since the flexibility of the batteries make them easily implantable into the human body. Additionally, these batteries are being used in skin patches and sensor-based pills, and may also be used in artificial pacemakers in the future.

Development of flexible devices

After the hoopla surrounding Apple’s “Bendgate”—the pet name given to a number of reports of iPhone 6’s bending in pockets, following the phone’s release last year—many device manufacturers started to push for more flexible products.

Leading vendors in the consumer electronics market are working on new technologies to introduce innovative flexible products like wearables and smartphones. The main challenge is incorporating flexibility in the design structure, since many components, like batteries, are rigid, adding to the inflexibility of the device.

Printed batteries present a pretty succinct solution to the flexibility problem, which will be a big factor contributing to advanced research and development in this segment over the forecast period.

Popularity of rechargeable batteries

Apart from durability and lifespan, charging was a key concern in the printed batteries market.

However, in 2014 Imprint Energy created the first printable, flexible, and non-toxic Zinc batteries. The company used a special polymer to develop rechargeable printed batteries using a process akin to screen printing. These rechargeable printed batteries are expected to be integrated in devices like pacemakers, smartphones, and other electronic products over the projected period.

For more information on printed batteries, check out Technavio’s new report.