Electronic elements integrated into the field of packaging and printing

Simple electronic elements are introduced into the packaging printing field to form electronic packaging. Although the development of electronic packaging is still in its infancy, it has to be admitted that it brings a whole new development opportunity for the packaging industry.

"Electronic packaging," or "e-packaging," is a topic that is increasingly appearing in the packaging printing and paper processing industries. Although the development of electronic packaging is still in its infancy, it has to admit that it brings a whole new development opportunity for the packaging industry. Some experts even predict that the technology will usher in innovative progress in the next few years. So, what exactly is electronic packaging, and what kind of opportunities will this emerging technology bring to the packaging and printing industry?

Printed electronic technology

Printed electronics is the foundation of electronic packaging. Printed electronics refers to the use of fast, efficient, and flexible digital inkjet printing technology to form conductive traces and patterns on the substrate (without copper foil), or to form the entire printed circuit board. More specifically, it is the science and technology of using digital inkjet technology to manufacture electronic devices and systems. Currently, devices that can be produced using printed electronics include transistors, RFID tags, antennas, sensors, mobile devices, e-books, and large variable advertising displays, as well as low-voltage, environmentally-friendly batteries.

For a long period of time, printed electronics are only active in scientific research laboratories and high-tech industries, and people in the printing and packaging industry rarely get information about printed electronics. In fact, many of the ongoing high-tech research and development use printing technology. Unfortunately, many printing and packaging manufacturers do not know that they could print out an electronic circuit through ordinary printers and printing processes in their workshops.

Impact on packaging printing

According to the analysis report of the printing industry, the world has a wide range of diverse needs for printed electronics and environmentally friendly printed batteries, including daily supplies, finance, health care, manufacturing, transportation, and logistics. The IDTechEx company in Cambridge, UK, predicts that the scale of the global printed electronics market will exceed 35 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, and the electronic packaging market will reach 7.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.

If leaders in the packaging, printing, and labeling industries can use advanced automatic identification and automatic identification data acquisition (AIDC) technology, they are likely to be the first to share the “market cake” for electronics. Especially in the mass consumer market, AIDC technology has been proven to have application value, and it has been applied in brand protection and product certification. For example, it can monitor the situation from production and processing, finished product inventory, distribution, retail to the seller. Establish a tracking and closed-loop system that can trace the source quickly and timely from the final product.

In the consumer goods market, the application of AIDC technology was mainly limited to barcodes. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology that emerged more than 10 years ago was developed with reliable, unattended wireless data exchange capabilities, and the development of smart labels and electronic product codes (EPC). Technical innovations in the area have added to the deficiencies of the bar code system. The electronic packaging will be expected to become the next fast-growing market, because it will certainly bring AIDC technology to a new level of value creation and return on investment.

Here are some examples of electronic packaging applications in the consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and retail industries:

Smart packaging

Battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID tags and smart packaging are sometimes referred to as semi-passive triggered technology. The reason why it was hailed as a new breakthrough in packaging application technology is that compared to fully passive trigger RFID tags, the accuracy of tag reading, read range, and read speed are improved; compared to active RFID. For labels, BAP RFID tags are more economical.

Thanks to its relatively simple structure and low price, BAP RFID tags, signs, and cards can be manufactured in large quantities using traditional printing processes. In addition, since RFID tags, batteries, and electronics can be printed together with the package itself, this technology makes it attractive for high value-added smart packaging applications. According to a report by Virginia-based industry analyst NanoMarkets, smart battery-powered packaging applications may include the legal use of drugs, the monitoring of fresh-keeping trays, and the prevention of tamper-evident courier parcels. Pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors can also apply brand protection and authentication techniques to prevent counterfeiting and theft to ensure the safety of patients.

Interactive packaging

Interactive packaging is another potentially lucrative field for electronic packaging. Such packaging can give the consumer some feedback, such as visual, auditory, etc., so that the unidirectional information transfer from the printing box or the packaging bag can be transformed into effective information that provides two-way "conversation". Based on the need for interactive features, the print media should include conductive inks, programmable chips, sensors, RFID tags, mini-speakers, LEDs, and printed batteries.

U.S. International Paper uses an ultra-thin flexible battery developed by PowerPaper for the packaging of consumer products. The new battery can be printed on the product package like ink, adding light, Sounds, and other special effects. The packaging of such audiovisual devices, when picked up by the consumer from the shelf, the audiovisual device can be automatically activated to play audiovisual information.

Other innovative applications, such as the addition of interactive games on food packaging; the addition of cooking timers to frozen food packaging, flashes or “squeaks” when the time is up; or they are easy to read, Touch-type scrolling recipe display.

Simple electronic elements are introduced into the field of packaging and printing to form electronic packaging, which will become a new starting point for the industry to enter a larger field of development. The market potential of electronic packaging is beyond imagination, but the key is how printing and packaging companies use this emerging technology.

Electronic packaging, this is just the beginning!

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