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By Leo Valiquette

In true national form, Canada’s delegation to the Printed Electronics USA 2014 conference made a lasting impression, thanks in no small part to a strong performance on the ice.

The delegation included eight organizations that represent a cross-section of Canada’s emerging printable electronics (PE) sector, led by the National Research Council of Canada, and supported by the CPEIA.

A highlight of the California conference was an indoor hockey rink demo put on by the Canadian delegation.

Conference goers could try their luck on the net while the goalie wore a biometric smartwear jersey from Canada’s OMSignal. The jersey uses the biometric technology that OMSignal commercially launched this week, to track heart rate, breathing, activity intensity, calories burned and steps walked. Attendees could see the goalie’s vital signs displayed on a screen as they took shots on goal. They could also see vitals displayed through a training routine such as skipping rope.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

One of the few live demos at the conference, it repeated every few hours and attracted a lot of traffic.

OMSignal’s technology is just one example of how Canadian firms are stepping up to take advantage of an explosive global market opportunity in printed electronics, as well as related areas such as smart fabrics, materials, integrated circuitry and flexible electronics.

“We have a lot of enabling technology available or in development across Canada for PE,” said Peter Kallai, Executive Director of the CPEIA. “Forty-some companies, along with university research labs, are developing applications, materials and the technical building blocks and components, for end user applications in a variety of industry verticals. While our delegation represented a good cross-section of this, it’s only the tip of the iceberg of what Canada can achieve in PE.”

Prize-winning technology

One of those companies is Quebec’s Raymor Industries. It took the conference’s Technical Development Materials Award for its product, IsoSol-100, the highest-ever purity semiconducting carbon nanotube ink that is produced using a truly scalable route: copolymer extraction. IsoSol-100 is used for bio and gas sensing, display drivers and transistor switches.

“The trade show gave us great exposure,” said Jens Kroeger, Director of Technology at Raymor. “The co-exhibition with Canadian companies and Team Canada PE was a good idea and it definitely attracted more people … our award gives us added credibility that allows us to gain the attention of larger corporations, which is critical for the next year.”

“It was a power play for the Canadian PE team across all periods,” said Steven Xiao, General Manager of 1-Material. This Montreal-based company works to create breakthroughs in thin film organic electronics, including organic light emitting devices (OLEDs), organic photovoltaics (OPV), organic RFID and polymer electrolyte batteries.

Getting the pulse of the industry

“The quality and quantity of booth traffic we experienced was the best since we began participating in this event,” said John Balash, Marketing Director at GGI International, which develops and manufacturers human-machine interface technologies, many of which take advantage of PE. “The result was a multitude of new ideas generated and exciting business opportunities to be developed in the months to come.”

“The PE USA show is a great venue to get the pulse of the printed electronics industry and learn what’s new and exciting in the field,” said Matthew Heuft, Manager of the XRCC Client Services Program at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada.  XRCC exhibited at the tradeshow as part of the Canadian delegation to get the word out about its client services business, which includes materials R&D services and a collection of electronic materials offerings.

“The show continues to grow,” Heuft added. “Over time, there is increasing emphasis on the commercial aspects of printed electronics – reliable electronic materials supply, manufacturing-scale equipment, and exploration of applications.”

What’s next?

Next up for Canada’s PE sector is the third annual Canadian Printed Electronics Symposium, taking place in Montreal, April 21-22. This year, the event is being led by the CPEIA and co-organized by the NRC and Quebec’s Printability and Graphic Communications Institute (Institut des communications graphiques et de l’imprimabilité, ICI).

“Last year, the Symposium attracted a lot of people involved in materials, components and manufacturing,” said Kallai. “It’s a showcase of the technology hotbed we have here in Canada for PE. Our focus this year is to add major end users, and discuss applications for PE as we evolve the industry.”

The call for papers for the Symposium is now open. Sponsorship opportunities, and early-bird registration, are also available.

To receive information on the various sponsorship opportunities for the Symposium, please contact us at info@cpeia-acei.ca.

The CPEIA is actively recruiting members. Join now and receive a substantial discount to attend the Symposium.