SAN JOSE, Calif. — Today’s tiny market for thin-film batteries will grow to $470 million by 2026, according to a new report. The news comes as proponents of all sorts of flexible printed electronics are wrapping up an annual meeting that attracted a record 650 attendees, showing their latest work.
“The Internet of Things, wearables and environmental sensors…require new form factors and designs that traditional battery technologies simply cannot provide. This is why the likes of Apple, Samsung, LG, STMicroelectronics and TDK are all becoming increasingly involved,” said Xiaoxi He, a technology analyst at market watcher IDTechEx in a new report.
Samsung is using a curved battery in its Gear Fit wristband, and STMicroelectronics has started limited production of thin-film solid-state lithium batteries, the report said. It also noted two other companies starting production of printed batteries.
Oakridge Global Energy Solutions Inc. will ramp up and install more than 2.6 Gigawatt-hours of production capacity in its Brevard County, Florida plant to make electrodes, and cells. The company finished prototyping in early 2016 and will be ready for volume manufacturing in early 2017. It acquired Oak Ridge Micro-Energy Inc. in 2002 for its thin-film, solid-state lithium battery technology initially licensed from Oakridge National Labs, the report said.
Separately, TDK has been working on battery-free energy harvesters for wearable devices and IoT nodes. TDK plans to spend more than $841 million between the fiscal years of 2015 and 2017 to ramp up production of lithium-ion batteries, hoping to catch up with competitors especially those in South Korea, it said.
An array of flexible batteries are in the works includingprinted batteries, thin-film batteries, laminar lithium-polymer batteries, advanced lithium-ion batteries, micro-batteries, stretchable batteries and thin flexible supercapacitors, the report said.
Target markets are also very diverse. In wearables, high-energy thin film batteries have the highest potential followed by printed rechargeable zinc battery provided the latter can improve.
In healthcare, skin patches using printed batteries are already on the market, and the number of skin patch companies is rapidly rising. Printed zinc batteries have the highest potential for this application, but price needs to continue falling before a higher market uptake takes place, the report said. The market for disposable medical devices requiring micro-power batteries also will expand, it added.
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