Well... you will never guess what's next: plastic electronics. Yes, the new technology, which is based on conductive polymers and flexible substrates, is apparently destined to hit the mainstream within the next few years. That's according to firm NanoMarkets, who believe that plastic electronics could change the face of the electronics industry and will soon reach a market volume in the billions of dollars.

The research firm forecasts that the worldwide plastic electronics market will grow to $5.8 billion in 2009, and reach $23.5 billion by 2012. In 2009, NanoMarkets expects displays to account for 46 percent of the plastic electronics market and memory for about 38 percent. By 2012, the markets for logic/processors, flexible solar panels and sensors will also reach billion-dollar levels, according to the firm.

NanoMarkets says that it expects that the technology will appear in computer displays in 2006 and TV screens in 2008. By 2008, plastic electronics could also be ready for the processor scene as well, and should have been introduced for memory at roughly the same time.

Plastic electronics holds many advantages over the traditional electronics that we are all used to. For one, the costs of manufacturing should be lower; circuits can be printed with ink-jet technologies. This opens the market up to companies like Xerox and Hewlett-Packard, both with significant experience in non-impact printing.