CPI hosts university students in Printable Electronics

07 Feb 2011

The day provided 60 Undergraduate and MSc students from the universities of Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside with the opportunity to learn about the exciting Printable Electronics industry, its technologies and the skills needed to secure jobs with companies operating in this emerging market

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The day included a varied programme, which met the interests of the Degree and Masters students in attendance. Interactive presentations from CPI’s experts and the Directors of two companies currently utilising the facilities, relayed market knowledge and offered students the chance to question career paths and technology application. Students also experienced a range of products, working demonstrators and a tour of the state of the art facility.

Students studying Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Optical Communication Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Product Design and Physics attended the day and benefitted from CPI’s market insight. They also gained a visual understanding of what the technology means for the real-world marketable products of today, and were given a glimpse of what it would be like to take their current research work to the next level by working in an innovative and technology-driving environment.

CPI works in the innovation space between the discovery of an idea (where university work typically concentrates) and the delivery of a product or service to the commercial market. It develops ideas, hurries the forced evolution of technologies, proves concepts and works with universities by working with spin-out companies and offering industrial mentoring to exceptional Masters and PhD students.

Steve Spruce, Operations Manager at CPI, said: CPI’s success is a result of the combination of a wide range of skills and expertise. Our commercial, scientific, engineering and administrative staff work closely together making sure our clients get their new Printed Electronics products to market as quickly as possible. This event was designed to give local students a real insight into how this works in practice, and to allow them to see the sort of career paths this exciting new technology opens up for them. CPI is currently working with over 100 companies in the North of England and has many more clients from all over the globe.”

CPI would like to thank the sponsors of the event: the Institute of Physics, County Durham Development Company and NETPark.

Dr Alan Fell, Engineering Team Leader at Sunderland University, said: It’s been very interesting to see how the day has run on two parallel lines: there’s been an insight into the technology – and it’s been great to see where it can go in the future – but also given an insight into possible careers for our students.

Careers and technology now seem attainable for the students, and it has almost acted as a microscopic snapshot of a placement for them.”

Dr Peter Harrington, Programme Leader for Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Northumbria University, said: It’s not what I was expecting from the day. These events tend to be much more company-focused, but this has made for an interesting alternative and the students have reacted really well.”

Dobromil Duda, Second Year Electronic and Electrical Engineering degree student at Sunderland University said: Printable Electronics is something new and very exciting, and I’ve gained a lot from the day – my desire is to work in Printable Electronics.”

Second Year Product Design student at Teesside University, Andreas Hohls, said: It’s been very interesting to see the commercial application of technologies and to visualise the end products. From a design perspective, it’s been excellent to understand more about what the products can and can’t do.

It’s been helpful the way CPI employees have shared with us what they have done– it makes you realise you can achieve it yourself.”

Tom Taylor, Director of CPI’s Printable Electronics Centre said: It has been an exciting day and it’s been encouraging to see young students being so involved in a technology area that will support this industry. CPI’s role is to provide resources and technology to support UK industry in developing printable electronics products, and it is key to ensure the future workforce has the relevant skill sets to support this.”


Matthew Herbert, CPI, 01642 447 274 / 07795127628, matthew.​herbert@​uk-​cpi.​com


About CPI The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is a national technology innovation centre offering market and technology expertise along with cutting-edge development assets to help its public and private sector clients build and prototype the next generation of products, processes and services quickly and efficiently, and with minimal risk.

CPI has designed and established national technology centres in Printable Electronics and Sustainable Processing. The centres are equipped with development laboratories, prototyping facilities and pilot plants that enable clients to prove and scale up processes from the laboratory stage through to commercial reality. There are commercially experienced scientists and engineers on site to offer expertise and guidance. CPI also offers a multi-disciplined team who work together on project management, investment and market opportunities to ensure each business fulfils its potential.

They are the only open access centres of their kind in the UK with such an extensive combination of equipment and specialist knowledge. CPI has designed an environment that fits the needs of companies whatever their size and demands, and consistently delivers customers’ requirements, on time and to budget.

What is Printable Electronics? A system of mass-producing technologies using traditional printing methods in a low-cost, high-efficiency environment, printable electronics (PE) combines a new class of materials and large area, high volume deposition and patterning techniques.

PE is often referred to as plastic, flexible, organic, polymer or thin film electronics and attracts acronyms such as OLAE or FOLAE (Flexible and/​or Organic Large Area Electronics), but they all refer to the same processes and this ambiguity should not detract from the importance of these technologies.

Printable electronics is the general term to describe electronics based on semiconducting organic materials as opposed to silicon semiconductors. Production costs are greatly reduced, which enables the evolution of a new wave of technologies and products which are lightweight, flexible and cheap to produce.

With CPI’s Printable Electronics Centre specialising in the advancement of PE, the UK is at the forefront of driving the innovation and forced evolution of these technologies.

Benefits of the technology? The list of potential benefits that PE technologies could bring is vast. These include, but are not limited to: •Reduction in cost of materials, design and manufacturing. •A faster production turnaround time. •Circuits produced on flexible substrates such as plastics give massive potential for alternate applications. •Lightweight potential leading to new applications, installations and zero maintenance (where applicable). •Increased environmental credentials. •Superior fault tolerance. •Applications from micro to macro. For example, large-scale electronic billboards

CPI is your innovation partner to make your ideas a reality.