Printed Silicon Ink Chips – Boon or Bust?

Printed chips could be a boon for one Silicon Valley firm that hopes that the printed chips could assist consumers. Using silicon ink to print the chips, the chips could contained data to help consumers make the right purchase. So what makes printed chips so attractive? They could be inexpensive to produce compared to traditional silicon chips.

Over at the San Jose Mercury News, they state the following information:

Until now, creating the microchips that power all of our electronic gadgets has been a laborious, complex and time-consuming process costing billions of dollars.

But if a Milpitas-based startup succeeds, making them could be as easy as printing a piece of paper.

And that could open up a huge market for so called “printed semiconductors,” which would contain an enormous amount of data but would be cheap enough to slap on thousands of products. Imagine going to the grocery store and being able to find out what wine works best with your favorite chicken recipe.

Backed by investors who include former San Francisco 49ers Brent Jones and Tommy Vardell — and a board that boasts Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla — privately held Kovio hopes to launch in a matter of weeks what is believed to be the world’s first manufacturing plant for printed semiconductors.

By using inkjet and other types of printers, the company plans to make radio frequency identification devices — so called RFID tags. Such tags traditionally contain microchips, but are so expensive now their use has been relatively limited.

If Kovio succeeds in keeping the price of the devices low, according to its executives and others familiar with the company, it could herald a new era for consumers and the chip business.

But will this be enough to make the printed chips successful? We won’t know the answer to that question until we see the final product. I must admit that if this does come about, we could be looking at a new era in technology.

Comments as always are welcome.