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RECHARGEABLE AND NON-RECHARGEABLE, FLEXIBLE, THIN-FILM BATTERIES: A GLOBAL INDUSTRY AND MARKET, ANALYSIS
Publish Date: Nov 2010,   Pages: 97,   Report Code: EN-106
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Flexible thin-film batteries are ideally suited for a variety of applications where small power sources are needed. They can be manufactured in a variety of shapes and sizes, as required by the customer. By using the available space within a device, the battery can provide the required power while occupying otherwise wasted space and adding negligible mass.

The thin-paper battery is suitable for applications requiring low-voltage power (1.5V to 3.0V), where traditional button cell batteries are problematic to use. Such thin-film or power-paper batteries will work exactly like traditional batteries, but will be nearly as thin as a piece of paper. A power-paper cell can generate 1.5V of electricity, which is approximately the same output as that of a watch or calculator battery.  A power-paper cell will be 0.5mm thick, and several cells can be used in combination to provide more power.

Non-rechargeable thin-film batteries are normally printed and may be either zinc-manganese chemistry (such as a paper battery) or lithium polymer chemistry. Chargeable thin-film batteries are lithium-ion batteries and have solid lithium cores rather than liquid cores, so they are less vulnerable to overheating and catching fire. They lose virtually no power over time, and can be recharged thousands of times before they need to be replaced.  The thin-film industry is developing miniaturized versions of this technology. A thin-film battery can be smaller than a postage stamp and twice its thickness, can be manufactured in various shapes, and can attach directly to a computer chip.

Power-paper batteries are printed directly onto thin substrates such as paper, so they are far more flexible than any other batteries due to their ultra-thin profile, low thermal mass, and ability to operate in harsh environments. Non-rechargeable thin-film batteries are uniquely suited as power sources for one-time password display-type smart cards, semi-battery-assisted passive (BAP) radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, semi-active tags with sensors (used in functional packaging), cosmetic and medical patches, consumer music greeting cards, toys and novelties.

Rechargeable thin-film batteries are suited for ultra-low power energy harvesting systems for wireless sensor networks, including ultra-small scale energy harvesting  power systems (below 100 milli-amps) of wireless devices. The batteries are rechargeable, which means their size need be no larger than required to satisfy the energy requirements on a single cycle, thus reducing cost and weight; this characteristic in itself may give birth to new applications.

Thin-film batteries – seamlessly integrated into the objects they power – will mirror other integrated circuits on the miniaturization curve, as power itself becomes a component subject to Moore’s Law.  Vertical and lateral build-outs in the industry will swell, flooding the marketplace with myriad useful new gadgets and peripherals. All these advancements will provide the breakthroughs needed to put power anywhere, in any form factor imaginable. Power will be lightweight, fully mobile, inexpensive and pervasive.


STUDY GOAL AND OBJECTIVES


Thin-film battery power systems differ from regular rechargeable micro-batteries used in notebooks, PDAs and mobile phones, which are available in prismatic, cylindrical and button forms. Commercially, low-profile micro-battery buttons have thicknesses ranging from 0.9mm to 2.1mm, compared to thicknesses below 0.6mm for flexible thin-film batteries.

Rechargeable thin-film cells can be stored for decades yet retain almost all their charge, according to developers, and they deliver powerful bursts of energy whenever needed. In many applications, they also can be actively used for decades, since they can be charged and discharged tens of thousands of times. To date, small-scale power supplies have been the missing link in the information revolution, a significant obstacle to the ubiquitous computing “aware environments” and smart machines that have been heralded as the next big wave of silicon intelligence.

Within the decade, however, all this will change.  As the micro-device market grows, new innovations will redefine the personal uses of power. The individual will be free from household and workplace power grids, relying – when desired – on personal (and personalized) mobile power systems. Connectivity, communication and knowledge management will be forever changed.

Roll-to-roll production of thin-film printed batteries will be low cost and high volume. These batteries can be manufactured in any size, shape, voltage, or power capacity needed. Thin-film batteries are positioned to become the next generation of lithium batteries for portable electronic applications.

Therefore, this study focuses on thin-film batteries that can be used in powering one-time password display-type smart cards, semi-BAP RFID tags, semi-active tags with temperature sensors (used in functional packaging or smart packaging), interactive merchandising displays, cosmetic and medical patches, greeting cards, toys and novelty items, as well as energy storage in ultra-low power (ULP) energy harvesting power systems (below 100milli-amps) of wireless devices.

This study provides market data about the size and growth of thin-film battery applications segments and new developments, including a detailed patent analysis, company profiles and industry trends.  Another goal of this report is to provide a detailed and comprehensive multi-client study of the market in North America, Europe, Japan, China, India, Korea and the rest of the world (ROW) for thin-film batteries and potential future business opportunities.

The objectives include thorough coverage of the underlying economic issues driving the thin-film battery business as well as assessments of new, advanced thin-film batteries that companies are developing. Also covered are legislative pressures for more safety and environmental protection, as well as users’ expectations for economical thin-film batteries. Another important objective is to provide realistic market data and forecasts for thin-film batteries.  This study provides the most thorough and up-to-date assessment that can be found anywhere on the subject. It also provides extensive quantification of the many important facets of market developments in thin-film batteries throughout the world.  This, in turn, contributes to consideration of what kinds of strategic responses companies may adopt in order to compete in this dynamic market.
 

REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY


Global megatrends of portability, connectivity, tracking, safety, environmental protection, automation, and do-it-yourself healthcare are driving innovations in flat, flexible, functional devices like display-type
plastic smart cards, RFIDs, data loggers, displays, drug-delivery patches, sensors and displays. These new devices, sometimes referred to as “smart active labels,” address the urgent need for safe and small-form-function power sources.  iRAP had conducted a study on the same subject in 2007. However, with increasing requirements for smart cards, sensors, and medical and consumer applications, many new developments and new products have appeared in the market. Therefore, iRAP felt a need to do a detailed technology and market update. along with a detailed analysis in this industry.

 

CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE STUDY

 

This study is intended to benefit existing manufacturers of BAP RFID tags, display- type OTP smartcards, smart packaging, medical implantables, microelectronics products and energy harvesting systems for wireless sensors, as well as manufacturers who seek to expand revenues and market opportunities by moving into new technologies such as thin-film batteries. This study also will benefit manufacturers of thin-film batteries and component manufacturers who deal with new types of thin-film batteries for power-hungry electronic products including wireless sensors and chips.

 

The study also provides the most complete account of thin-film battery growth in North America, Europe, Japan, China and the rest of the world currently available in a multi-client format. These markets have also been estimated according to types of materials used, such as lithium phosphorus oxynitride, solid-polymer electrolytes and zinc-manganese electrode bases using solid electrolytes.

 

This report provides the most thorough and up-to-date assessment that can be found anywhere on the subject. The study also provides an extensive quantification of the many important facets of market developments in emerging markets for thin-film batteries such as, for example, China. This contributes to the determination of what kinds of strategic responses suppliers may adopt in order to compete in these dynamic markets.

 

 

SCOPE AND FORMAT

 

The market data contained in this report quantify opportunities for thin-film batteries. In addition to product types, the report also covers many issues concerning the merits and future prospects of the thin-film batteries business, including corporate strategies, information technologies and the means for providing these highly advanced products and service offerings. It also covers in detail the economic and technological issues regarded by many as critical to the industry’s current state of change. The report provides a review of the thin-film battery industry and its structure, as well as the many companies involved in providing these batteries and related products. The competitive positions of the main players in the thin-film battery markets and the strategic options they face are also discussed, along with such competitive factors as marketing, distribution and operations.

 

 

TO WHOM THE STUDY CATERS

 

The study will benefit existing manufacturers of handheld electronic consumer products who seek to expand revenues and market opportunities by growing into the new technology of thin-film batteries, which are now positioned to become a preferred solution for many types of energy storage and power delivery applications.

 

This study provides a technical overview of the thin-film batteries most appropriate for RFID tags, smart cards, medical implantables, wireless chips, sensors, etc., looking at major technology developments and existing barriers.  Audiences for this study include marketing executives, business unit managers and other decision makers in thin-film battery companies and companies peripheral to this business.

 

 

REPORT SUMMARY

 

The thin-film battery (TFB) market is an attractive and still-growing multimillion dollar market characterized by very high production volumes of thin-film batteries that must be extremely reliable and low in cost.  Thin-film lithium and lithium-ion batteries are ideally suited for a variety of applications where small power sources are needed. By using the available space within a device, the battery can provide the required power while occupying otherwise wasted space and adding negligible mass.

 

Three very distinct types of flexible TFB technologies exist – lower performance printed TFBs, single-use higher performance lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries, and solid-state rechargeable lithium phosphorous oxynitride (LiPON) batteries (which are the most expensive). Currently, non-rechargeable zinc batteries can be fully printed and used in roll-to-roll manufacturing processes.

 

The range of possible applications for these batteries derives from their important advantages over conventional battery technologies. They can be made in virtually any shape and size to meet the requirements of an application.  The batteries are rechargeable, which means their size need be no larger than is required to satisfy the energy requirements on a single cycle, thus reducing cost and weight, which in itself may give birth to new applications.

 

Up until now, various power factors have impinged on the advancement and development of microdevices. Power density, cell weight, battery life and form factor all have proven significant and cumbersome when considered for microapplications. Batteries of the future will need to be miniaturized, untethered, and portable.

 

The Summary Table and Summary Figure below project market trends for thin-film batteries according to region. The global market for thin-film batteries is expected to reach $90million in 2010. This market will increase to $600million by 2015 with a growth rate of 46.1% annually for the next five year.

 

Other major findings of this report are:

 

  • The range for the average annual growth rate (AAGR) is expected to be 37.9% to 67.8% for the six major regions surveyed for the period 2010 to 2015. 

 

  • Regionally, North America is expected to capture about 40% of the market in 2010, followed by Europe at 36% and the rest of the world (ROW) at 24%, dominated by Japan, Korea and China.

 

  • The market for thin-film batteries used in one-time password (OTP), display-type smart cards for banking will be highest in 2010.

 

  • Disposable medical cosmetic patches, electronic games and entertainment devices, music greeting cards using non-rechargeable thin printed battery (zinc-manganese chemistry), low power semi-active tags used with sensors, and battery-assisted passive (BAP) radio frequency identification (RFID) devices will have a combined market share of over one-third of  the total market in 2010.

 

  • Ultra-low power energy harvesting devices (solar, thermal, vibration) using rechargeable lithium-ion or similar type batteries will be a distant third in 2010 and will slightly increase its share by 2015.

 

  • The main factor slowing growth of the market for thin-film/printed batteries at present is high cost. Thin-film/printable batteries are currently unable to compete with conventional battery technology on price. This will change as volumes for thin-film/printed batteries ramp up and technology improves.

 

  • Among the three technologies covered in this report, in 2010 the market share for non-rechargeable thin zinc-manganese printed batteries is the highest followed by lithium polymer thin-film non-rechargeable battery technology and rechargeable thin-film lithium-ion batteries as a distant third.
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