USDC Changes Name to FlexTech Alliance; Expands Mission to Include Flexible, Printed Electronics

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The U. S. Display Consortium (USDC) announced July 9 that it is formally expanding its mission to support the emerging flexible, printed electronics market—subsequently changing the organization's official name to the FlexTech Alliance to reflect this new activity and opportunity. The USDC board took this action to signal its intent to commit resources to the increasingly synergistic technologies driving advances in the flexible and printed electronics sector, according to a press release. At the same time, the board recommitted its support for supply-chain development for next-genera-tion displays, such as OLEDs, flexible displays, MEMs-based displays and 3-D displays.

USDC officials stated that the move is a natural progression for the organization based on the success of the Flexible, Printed and Organic (FPO) Electronics Initiative that it launched in December 2006, which was designed to gauge potential development and growth of this new market. Since the launch of that initiative, industry interest has grown steadily with a definite need for programs dedicated to the sector. Based on substantial industry and academic support, as well as the growing synergies between all of its served markets, the USDC board has now officially broadened the consortium's mission to serve the common interests of the display industry and the flexible, printed electronics industry.

As part of this effort, the USDC and all of its programs will be absorbed under the broader FlexTech Alliance umbrella. In addition to continued strong emphasis on electronic display supply chain R&D, the FlexTech Alliance will focus on creating a flexible, printed electronics infrastructure within North America that will ultimately enable the production of active, ubiquitous devices. These devices will be manufactured using new, flexible form factors that deliver high functionality at low cost. Near-term applications for this market include RFID tags, sensors (chemical/biological), energy (e.g., solar cell panels and flexible batteries), solid-state lighting, medical/healthcare, disposable electronics and displays. Given their myriad applications, FPO electronics hold tremendous potential, with experts predicting that the market for some applications could exceed $50 billion by 2017, according to the press release.

"There is tremendous overlap between what USDC has undertaken in the display industry and the work needed to support the flexible, printed electronics industry," stated Michael Ciesinski, USDC's former CEO, who will now lead the new FlexTech Alliance in the same capacity. "The tools our consortium has at hand—pre-competitive R&D funding, technical roadmapping forums and a strong set of conferences and workshops—will help set an aggressive pace of innovation. The goal set by the Governing Board is to accelerate the transition from R&D to prototype manufacturing, and then to commercialization and market acceptance."

The FlexTech Alliance will be overseen by a seasoned management team that includes Dr. Mark Hartney as CTO; Kay Mascoli as director of development and planning; Dr. Kevin Cammack as director of technical marketing and development; and Heidi Hoffman as director of events and marketing communications.

"The FlexTech Alliance is poised to address the need for an organization dedicated to facilitating and promoting the flexible, printed electronics and display industries in North America," said Dr. Dan Gamota, director of printed electronic platforms at Motorola. "The fact that USDC has changed its name and expanded its mission to be inclusive of these emergent markets speaks volumes to the future potential that is just waiting to be tapped."

The FlexTech Alliance will leverage the strong relationships USDC has already forged with industry, the academic community, investment banks and venture capital firms, along with federal agencies including the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and theNational Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which funded early federal initiatives in printed electronics. The FlexTech Alliance will also continue to work closely with the Flexible Display Center (FDC) at Arizona State University and theCenter for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing (CAMM) at Binghamton University in upstate New York—both of which have substantial activity in this dynamic industry.

— Staff Reports


Esquire Magazine to Feature E Ink Electronic-Paper Display on its October Cover

NEW YORK - Esquire's October issue, which will celebrate the iconic magazine's 75th anniversary, will be the first magazine ever to embed electronic paper into a mass-produced print product.

The Esquire cover is being produced in collaboration with E Ink Corp., and in partnership with the Ford Flex Crossover. According to a press release, the cover "will make a profound statement about how the print medium can expand its capabilities while continuing to exploit its own unique strengths." Ford will prominently feature its Ford Flex on the inside cover, utilizing the same E Ink Vizplex flexible display technology in a double-page advertisement.

"This cover is both a breakthrough for magazines and an expression of the theme of our anniversary issue," said David Granger, editor-in-chief, Esquire. "We've spent 16 months making this happen as one of the ways we're demonstrating that the 21st century begins this fall. The entire issue is devoted to exploring the ideas, people and issues that will be the foundation of the 21st century."

In the summer of 2007, Esquire and Hearst, Esquire's parent company, contracted E Ink to develop a version of its electronic-paper technology that could be used in a magazine. Throughout 2008, E Ink and Hearst's manufacturing division worked to surmount the myriad manufacturing challenges the project presented. When the cover appears on newsstands in September, words and images will scroll across the flexible electronic-paper display.

The team at Ford was made aware of the 75th Anniversary Edition by Esquire last year, and there was an immediate link to the launch of the new Flex Crossover.

"Flex is a breakthrough product for Ford and the Esquire opportunity offered us the chance to show the vehicle in a way we could never previously have imagined," said Jim Farley, Ford's Group Vice President of Marketing and Communications. "This is an industry first. Ford has a long and rich history of breaking down barriers and bringing to market new technologies for the masses, so this opportunity fits our brand perfectly."

Esquire will distribute 100,000 issues with the special cover on newsstands. They will be available at Borders, Barnes & Noble and select newsstand vendors.

— Staff Reports


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