Researchers at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities have managed to 3D print a flexible OLED display using a customized printer. If the development is as practical and scalable as it sounds, it would enable anyone to 3D print displays from home in a few years.
Researchers 3D Print Flexible OLED Displays
According to the research paper published in Science Advances journal, the research team seems to have combined two methods of 3D printing to print six layers essential to make the OLED display functional. While active layers were spray printed at room temperature, electrodes, interconnects, insulation, and encapsulation were all extrusion printed.
The prototype created was about 1.15 inches on each side and had 64 pixels. The team notes that all pixels worked and emitted light. Before arriving at the current results, the researchers had issues with the uniformity of the light-emitting layers.
“The nice part about our research is that the manufacturing is all built-in, so we’re not talking 20 years out with some ‘pie in the sky’ vision,” said Michael McAlpine, a senior author of the study. “This is something that we actually manufactured in the lab, and it is not hard to imagine that you could translate this to printing all kinds of displays ourselves at home or on the go within just a few years, on a small portable printer.”
Looking ahead, the researchers plan to improve the resolution and brightness. They also believe that these 3D printed OLEDs can be used for wearables and other electronic devices. The custom 3D printer used here costs as much as a Tesla Model S (~$86,990). So, it will be interesting to see if it’s possible to scale down the initial costs without compromising on the results.