printable electronics

2016 November 23

printable electronics as an enabler for 'smart' packaging

We know that consumers are using their smart phones to research products and compare prices but research carried out last year by Deloitte Consulting found that these consumers convert to buyers at a 40% higher rate than those shopping without referring to a smartphone.  This shopping behaviour is an opportunity for retailers and brands to look for new ways of engaging via smartphones at the point-of-purchase. 

In-store communications such as packaging, shelf labelling and point-of-sale displays can all be digitally enhanced to communicate with consumers through their smartphones. The idea isn’t new but the enabling technology is rapidly evolving making it more cost effective, discreet and functional. Some brands are using the technology to protect against product tampering, counterfeiting and theft and others are extending the shelf life of fresh produce and reducing food and packaging waste.

 A key enabling technology for all these applications is printable electronics (PE) -   inks that can conduct electricity, made from materials such as graphite, silver and copper, are printed on a substrate at high enough density to form a complete electronic circuit, but thin enough to have negligible impact on footprint.  The substrate can be rigid, flexible or even stretchable, such as paper, plastic, fabric or glass and the inks can be applied through traditional printing processes such as flexo, screen, inkjet, gravure and offset, as well as through coatings. PE can be used to create discreet components such as displays, conductors, transistors, sensors and light emitting diodes. These can be integrated into simple systems that can record, store and then transmit information. 

The Centre for Process Innovation in the UK has been looking at the potential for smart packaging and has just announced the winner of its design challenge launched in collaboration with Brunel University and Crown Packaging.  The winning design for Smart Sunscreen shows the considerable potential for smart packaging within the consumer goods, beauty and pharmaceutical sectors. 


photo courtesy of cpi

>< opinion

The applications for smart packaging are widely recognized and will provide real benefits to consumers as well as cost savings and reduced wastage for brand owners. Printable electronics technology makes smart packaging more affordable both as a promotional and communications tool and as a truly added-value after-sales tool.

Read more about smart packaging applications on our blog:

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