2011 in Review
By Gail Flower
Early in December we start to think about the end of one year and the beginning of another. This past weekend was one of those times when I had a few moments of quiet escape from shopping crowds to pull back and contemplate what has happened in 2011.
The back yard near Pittsburg had lots of dead branches, roots, and tree parts. We decided to fire up the outdoor brick fire place and feed it until the piles began to disappear. Soft clumps of snow fell straight down—no wind—as smoke snaked straight upward in a reverse motion. The warmth of the flame crackled and moved in mesmerizing dances.
We sat back and started to talk. What type of year has it been and what will be next year do you think? The unemployment numbers have begun to improve. In 2010, the numbers ranged from 9.4 to a high of 9.8. In 2011, the highest has been 9.1 and it’s around 8.6 right now. It looks as if 2012 will be a continued slow recovery. Of course none of that matters if you’re unemployed, and we all know some good printers, engineers, business people, and middle managers that are still looking. Still, compared to other places, we seem to have more hope for recovery. And the direction points toward improvement over all.
Lots of people made the news. We lost some technology leaders in 2011 like Steve Jobs. And those leaders in other areas, those we wished to have left sooner, are now gone, such as Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gadaffi. “We are the 99%” became the quote of the year as protesting once again became as popular as in the 1960s. Seeing the soldiers returning from Iraq warmed our hearts with gladness. First Lady Michelle Obama stood out as a physical fitness queen as she, with the help of National Geographic Kids magazine and more than 300,000 jumping jack-ers, made history after breaking the world record for most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period. We have other people events to look forward to: when November 2012 rolls around, we will once again elect a president. Personalities will dominate the media at that time. And the Seattle City Council passed a bill to ban plastic shopping bags for business ranging from farmers markets to department stores; for a paper bag, the cost will be five cents. Strike one for more sustainability efforts. Perhaps this trend will continue.
As for printed electronics and functional industrial printing including membrane switches, it was a very good year. In solar, there are more efficient energy conversions now. One of the interesting new products is Soitec’s Plug&Sun, an efficient integrated system designed to meet the needs of remote areas for clean and reliable electricity. The latest IDTechEx show in Santa Clara, CA, had lots of products for practical applications for point-of-purchase interactive products. Canyon Graphics brought their integrated INMold appliance application to the show as an example of what can be made. In every field from OLDED to RFID to flexible displays, sensors, printed electronics, and more industrial printed electronics are becoming more main stream.
2011 was a very good
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