With 3D printing hot in the news, and conformable, flexible, or even printed electronics fitting any shape, it is only a matter of time before electronic circuits can be laid-out as part of the 3D-printing process, the electronic framework becoming an integral supporting part of any object’s mechanical structure.
In some cases, there may still be room for modular plug-ins to accommodate hard-silicon islands, but IDTechEx’s chairman Peter Harrop describes structural electronics as one of the most important developments of this century.
Introducing IDTechEx’s latest report on the topic, “Structural Electronics 2015-2025,” Harrop reminds us that two years ago IEEE published “3D Printing for Rapid Prototyping of Structural Electronics,” and that “structural batteries” have already been implemented in electric cars, in racing-car aerofoils, and in the Tesla pure electric car. (The power train is entirely fitted into the sides and floor of the car.)
Fitting things into spare spaces is really only a precursor of structural electronics. A much bigger gain comes when existing dumb metal and plastic are not needed, because load-bearing electronics and electrics take over. … (Read more)