Printed Electronics for Smart Packaging Project Aims to Expand Market Opportunites

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The Collaborative Industry Project (CIP) using Printed Electronics for Smart Packaging, initiated by A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), aims to develop capabilities in design, prototyping and manufacturing of smart packaging with printed electronics and to establish a strong supply chain for printed electronics smart packaging in Singapore. Printed electronics technologies in smart packaging applications include printed lighting, printed antennae for Near Field Communication, printed touch and system/functional integration in smart packaging.

Smart Packaging Potential and Applications

The smart packaging market is expected to grow to more than US$ 1.45 billion in the next decade[1]. The key drivers for the rapid demand are an ageing population that has difficulty reading small print instructions, and the need for disposable medical testers and drug delivery devices. More wealthy and demanding consumers, changing lifestyles; tougher legislations for product integrity; and concern for security are other key drivers. The fast growing smart packaging application examples are: dynamic labels that blink an image and reprogrammable decoration on packages; packaging with audio and timer; packaging enabled by RFID for location tracking and status indication of remaining product quantity in a can; and pharmaceutical smart labels using printed temperature sensing labels to measure the integrity of packaged pharmaceuticals during transport and in storage.

Smart Packaging CIP

Despite the vast market potential of smart packaging, the local industry faces difficulties to create sustainable smart packaging products. Not having sufficient knowledge in printed electronics and smart packaging design that works for customers is another major constraint. The lack of experienced integrators that can provide total solution in smart packaging and insufficient expertise to combine effective marketing strategy to maximise the impact of smart packaging are real challenges.

As such, the CIP on Smart Packaging using Printed Electronics was launched for the packaging and printing industries, industry associations, system or software solution providers and integrators to build capabilities across the supply chain to capture value in smart packaging. To date, nine MNCs and SMEs from the printing and packaging industry and brand owners are participating in this CIP (Refer to Annex A).

“CIP is a platform for companies with common interests to conduct R&D and develop competitive technologies. This CIP, in particular, brings together companies to develop a full spectrum of capabilities, technologies and innovative applications in the emerging printed electronics industry value chain,” said Dr Lim Ser Yong, Executive Director of SIMTech.

Productivity funding is available for participating companies from Employment and Employability Institute (e2i). Mr Gilbert Tan, CEO of e2i, said, "e2i and SIMTech piloted the CIP for professionals from the Printing & Packaging industries. Participants will be equipped with new skills in design and prototyping of integrated system for smart packaging to stay competitive globally. This aligns with our government’s vision to up-skill and deep-skill locals to prepare for growth and future needs in industries. SMEs can also benefit from learning new technologies to offer improved packaging solutions for customers, thus creating new businesses and revenue streams."

SIMTech Contributions

The participating companies in this CIP will be working with SIMTech for six months using SIMTech resources and facilities to explore and capture business opportunities in smart packaging without incurring huge upfront investment. From the CIP, participating companies acquire knowledge in application design guideline of printed electronics on smart packaging products; generate ideas and finalise prototype design; develop smart packaging products with printed electronics that work for their customers; learn and optimise the integration of printed electronics in smart packaging, as well as understand cost modelling of printed electronics applications to be able to price the smart packaging product effectively to their customers.

With the knowledge acquired from this CIP and the smart packaging product developed with SIMTech, the participating companies can win new business from existing or new customers through their smart packaging capabilities.



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