Image: McAlpine Group, University of Minnesota

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have figured out how to develop a special 3D printer that’s capable of printing a perfectly functioning OLED display, one that’s flexible, no less.

As noted in an article shared by the university on Friday, the discovery could result in not only lowered manufacturing costs for future OLED displays but the ability for display enthusiasts to 3D print flexible OLED displays in the comfort of their homes. Previous attempts with 3D printing OLED displays had failed, resulting in problems such as the poor uniformity of light-emitting layers, but the researchers succeeded with their latest attempt by combining multiple modes of printing.

“In this new study, the University of Minnesota research team combined two different modes of printing to print the six device layers that resulted in a fully 3D-printed, flexible organic light-emitting diode display,” the university explained.

“The electrodes, interconnects, insulation, and encapsulation were all extrusion printed, while the active layers were spray printed using the same 3D printer at room temperature. The display prototype was about 1.5 inches on each side and had 64 pixels. Every pixel worked and displayed light.”

“The device exhibited a relatively stable emission over the 2,000 bending cycles, suggesting that fully 3D printed OLEDs can potentially be used for important applications in soft electronics and wearable devices,” noted Ruitao Su, the first author of the study and mechanical engineering Ph.D. graduate.

The full research paper (“3D printed flexible organic light-emitting diode displays”) is available to read in the latest issue of Science Advances, a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Source: University of Minnesota

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