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Researchers in the United States have fully 3D printed a flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display using a bespoke printer.
According to a team from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities,
the breakthrough could lead to low-cost OLED panels that anyone can make at home using 3D printers.
The findings are published in Science Advances.
An organic material layer converts power into light in the OLED display technology.
OLEDs are high-resolution digital displays that may be made flexible
and employed in large-scale and handheld devices.
OLED displays are thin, flexible, lightweight, power-efficient, and have a wide viewing angle and good contrast ratio.
Michael McAlpine, a University of Minnesota Kuhrmeyer Family Chair Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the study’s principal author said,
“OLED displays are normally created in enormous
, expensive, ultra-clean manufacturing facilities.”
“We wanted to test whether we could condense all of that and print an OLED display
on our custom-built table-top 3D printer,
which costs approximately the same as a Tesla Model S.”
Fixing Homogeneity Challenges
The team has tried 3D printing OLED displays before,
but the homogeneity of the light-emitting layers was a problem.
Other groups used spin-coating or thermal evaporation to deposit specific components and
produce functional devices in addition to partially printing displays.
The University of Minnesota research team used two separate printing techniques to manufacture the six device layers in this new study,
resulting in a completely 3D-printed, flexible organic light-emitting diode display.
Extrusion printing was used for the electrodes,
insulation, and encapsulation,
while spray printing was used for the active layers on the same 3D printer at room temperature.
The displayed prototype featured 64 pixels that worked and projected light and measured about 1.5 inches on each side.
“The beautiful thing about our study is that the manufacturing is all built-in,”
“We’re not talking 20 years out with some ‘pie in the sky vision.”
“This is something we made in the lab,
and it’s not hard to envision that in a few years,
we’ll be able to print all kinds of displays ourselves at home or on the road,
using a small portable printer.”