defenceToday’s battlefield is high tech. Soldiers rely on mobile devices for real-time situational awareness. The command centre also wants to monitor the health of personnel in the field.

The need is for electronic components, systems and displays that are lightweight, low power and rugged. Procurement budgets also demand low-cost solutions.

Printable Electronics (PE) serves all these needs.

With PE, biometric monitoring and flexible solar cells can be built into smart materials – a shirt becomes a wearable sensor for vital signs, while a backpack can serve as a solar cell to provide power and recharge battery packs.

PE also allows for flexible, even rollable touch displays that are far more robust and rugged than the typical rigid device with a glass screen. OLED (organic light-emitting diode), a key component of flexible and low-power displays, can be manufactured more rapidly and at lower cost with PE, compared to traditional processes.

As materials and processes continue to evolve, the advantages of PE will extend beyond the soldier in the field to the cockpit displays for military aircraft and other vehicles.