Think printing solar panels is cool? Well, here’s something even cooler. General Electric has just successfully demonstrated a roll-to-roll printing (think newspaper style printing) process for OLEDs. It’s a state-of-the-art process for the production of Organic Light Emitting Diodes that’s high performance, energy efficient, and surprisingly inexpensive. The applications are endless for printing energy efficient light systems of all sizes. Just imagine the design possibilities!
OLEDs are a subcategory of LEDs that glow thanks to an electroluminescent layer of organic compounds, and have been hailed as the next big thing in green electronics. OLEDs are thinner, look better, and are even more energy efficient than a typical LED display. And by their very nature of this new manufacturing process, they should be cheap to create, as the only thing required is an inkjet printer. For years researchers have been trying to develop roll to roll printing of OLEDs, which is believed to be the cheapest process for manufacturing OLEDs. Thanks to GE, it now appears that such a process will come sooner rather than later.
GE’s OLED printing project was four years in the making. They partnered with Energy Conversion Devices, who provided the experience in making the roll-to-roll equipment, and set out to do what was considered the ultimate production line for OLEDs. Even though it took them 4 years to develop, the program’s goals were so time-constrained that oftentimes they were designing the machine to manufacture the devices without knowing how to manufacture the device itself.