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Full 3D flexible OLED display created by US researchers

The University of Minnesota researchers said that they have created the world’s first entirely 3D-printed flexible OLED display. According to a press release, it’s a breakthrough that could allow consumers to print their own displays at home rather than relying on firms who create panels in far-flung facilities.

Extrusion printing was employed to create the electrodes, interconnects, encapsulation, and insulation. The active layers were spray-painted at room temperature. Six layers were 3D printed in total to create a flexible and fully functional display.

‘OLED displays are usually produced in big, expensive, ultra-clean fabrication facilities. We wanted to see if we could basically condense all of that down and print an OLED display on our table-top 3D printer, which was custom built and costs about the same as a Tesla Model S’, Michael McAlpine, senior author of the team’s new study said.

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The University of Minnesota team’s display prototype isn’t exactly groundbreaking, measuring 1.5 inches wide and using only 64 pixels. However, they do believe that their approach may be refined in the future to create even more complex displays.

A 1080p panel, for example, requires more than 2 million pixels, indicating that they still have a long way to go. It’s also worth noting that the team employed a very pricey bespoke 3D printer, so we may have to wait a bit before we see the process in our own houses. Aside from home 3D printing, the team believes that their flexible displays might be used in the future for soft electronics and wearable gadgets, implying that expanding the technique could open up a slew of new opportunities.


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