FlexBook is an initiative by the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Large Area Electronics and supported by a number of industry partners. It is intended to demonstrate to engineers, designers and product managers how printed, flexible and large-area electronics (PFLAE) can currently be practically applied in manufactured products. PFLAE is not one single technology, but rather a range of manufacturing technologies that are different from those used in the manufacture of “conventional” electronics (laminated PCBs, silicon wafer production, high temperature processing). PFLAE manufacturing technologies typically use additive methods (printing) to deposit functional materials onto thin plastic substrates.
PFLAE methods are most valuable for applications that:
- Require flexible, thin circuits for which conventional SMT components are not suitable
- Require elements that have a large surface area but only limited complexity (e.g. large sensing or display areas)
- Require low circuit complexity coupled with extremely low cost at high production volumes (e.g. disposable circuits)
For many applications, a hybrid approach integrating PFLAE and conventional electronics is likely to be the best approach. This approach is taken in FlexBook: The loose-leaf PFLAE pages in the ring binder are connected to rigid companion electronics placed on the inside front cover.
FlexBook is made possible by the support of the following industrial partners.