BCC Research Projects the Flexible Devices Manufactured by Roll-to-Roll Technologies to Reach Nearly $22.7 Billion by 2017

The global market for flexible devices manufactured by roll-to-roll (R2R) technologies increased from $8.5 billion in 2010 to nearly $10 billion in 2011, and was valued at nearly $10.8 billion in 2012, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.3% during the two-year period.

Circuit devices currently account for a nearly 96.9% share of all revenues in 2012. Sales within this segment are primarily associated with flexible printed circuits.

Displays and other optoelectronic devices account for a 2.5% share of the R2R flexible devices market, with total 2012 revenues of $264 million, while solar cells, sensors, and other emerging applications currently represent a combined share of only 0.7% of the total.

The diffusion of R2R technologies is expected to have a marked effect in lowering the unit prices of these devices. Consequently, while consumption in terms of volume is forecast to rise very rapidly, revenues will increase somewhat more moderately. As a result, the total market for R2R flexible devices is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 16.1% from 2012 to 2017, reaching global revenues of nearly $22.7 billion by 2017.

Demand for R2R flexible devices is projected to maintain a healthy rate of growth during the next five years due to a variety of factors, including the following:

  •     Sustained demand for flexible devices in the electronics, optoelectronics, photovoltaics, sensors, and medical sectors
  •     Vastly improved cost efficiencies arising from the utilization of roll-to-roll processes to meet the growing demand for flexible devices
  •     Growing market penetration of products that are small, low-cost, durable, and portable or wearable
  •     Development of new flexible devices for applications in microelectronics, energy production, and other high-tech sectors.

There are several reasons why flexible devices are gaining increasing importance. First, flexible devices are being created with the same functionalities as traditional (rigid) integrated circuits, yet are produced with low-cost materials and processes with the intent to make them commercially available at lower unit prices than their rigid counterparts.

Printed circuit boards include rigid and flexible circuits. In recent years, flexible circuits have gained increased market share driven by their growing use in popular consumer electronics such as tablet PCs, notebooks, cell phones, and other wireless devices. Flexible circuits are also gaining acceptance for the fabrication of RFIDs and smart cards.

Flexible circuits offer several advantages compared to rigid circuits, including reduced package dimensions, reduced weight, and optimization of component real estate. Flexible circuits currently represent approximately one-fifth of the entire PCB market, but are forecast to continue growing at a faster pace than the overall PCB market during the next five years, with a CAGR of 8.4%.

As the flexible printed circuit (FPC) market continues to expand, driven by mass-market applications, the need will grow for high-volume, automated processes that maintain consistent quality (i.e., roll-to-roll technologies) to satisfy the increasing demand for these products.


  •     Identify various commercially available and emerging flexible devices, including a description of their types and fabrication technologies
  •     Highlight new technological developments in flexible device manufacturing, while outlining technical issues
  •     Review various processes that are being used for roll-to-roll manufacturing, focusing on those that are quickly gaining in popularity
  •     Estimate current global markets for flexible devices produced by roll-to-roll technologies based on device type, manufacturing process, substrate material, and region, with growth forecasts through 2017 for each market segment
  •     Identify important technology and industry trends within each market segment
  •     Offer an updated review of current industry players, including manufacturers of devices and materials as well as equipment and technology developers
  •     Provide a description of the most relevant research and development activities
  •     Determine trends in recently issued U.S. patents.

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