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Structural electronics is referred as the structural components with electronics and electrical functionality. The types of functional architecture can be energy storage devices, energy harvesters, antenna, switches, and several others. The advantages of structural electronics such as design freedom, reliable operation, cost-effectiveness, and lighter weight is propelling its demand in a wide range of applications. The major applications of structural electronics are found in supercapacitors, photovoltaic, smart skins, and 3D printing. 3D printing is widely used application of the structural electronics technology in the present time. However, the market penetration of structural electronics is expected to be high for flexible and printed electronics, during the forecast period.
The conventional, and mechanical design of load bearing occupy unwanted space, on the other hand its structural electronics design have no volume. The future uses of structural electronics are expected in aircrafts using shape memory alloys, hybrids cars with printed organic light emitting diode (OLED) on outside and inside of the car roof. The structural electronics is also expected to be implemented in printed batteries, solar boats and solar aircraft running on sunshine without the need of external energy storage devices. Currently, the structural electronics market is at its nascent stage. Piezoelectric dance floor is used to generate energy with the interference of structural electronics in the dance floor area. Structural electronics is found in smart bridges around the globe, in which the structural sensors are integrated in the concretes.
Based on applications, the global structural electronics market can be broadly classified as, aerospace, cars, consumer goods, home appliances, bridges and buildings. On the basis of component type, the global structural electronics market can be classified as conductors, sensors, photovoltaic, battery, electroluminescent, electro chromic, electrophoretic, OLED light, OLED display, and logic/memory.
The structural electronics market is a highly sophisticated technology market. The proprietary learning curve of the structural electronics market is extremely high, making it tough for the new entrants to enter the market. Moreover, before full commercialization of structural electronics, a scope for research and development prevails, especially for the automotive and consumer electronics segment. The photovoltaic segment is expected to be the fastest growing segment in the structural electronics market during the forecast period, owing to increasing demand from hybrid and pure electric vehicles. However, factors such as low level of technological awareness, complex manufacturing process, along with speculation over the practical efficiency of structural electronics is limiting its wide scale adoption.
North America accounted for the largest market of structural electronics in 2014. The high penetration of structural electronics in the region is due to the higher adoption of structural electronics in conductors, sensors, and photovoltaic, which are used in the high end electric cars and space vehicles. Europe accounted for the second largest market of structural electronics, which was predominantly led by Germany and the U.K. in 2014. Asia-Pacific structural electronics market is still at its nascent stage with very low market penetration. Japan and China are some of the early adopters of structural electronics technology in the Asia-Pacific region. Country wise the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Japan, and China are some of the major markets for structural electronics.
There are very limited numbers of players operating in the structural electronics market. Most of the major players reside in developed countries such as the U.S., Japan, and Germany. Some of the competitors in the structural electronics market are, Boeing, Canatu Oy, Neotech, Odyssian Technology, Paper Battery Co., TactoTek, Soligie, and T-Ink.