German researchers have developed a method to print paper-thin displays of various shapes and sizes that could be integrated into everyday objects.
The method, using of-the-shelf printing technology and special luminescent ink, allows creating high-resolution displays only 0.1mm thick at a cost of €20 for an A4 page.
The user could design his or her desired digital template using common computer programmes such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint and subsequently print it out using either Screen Printing or Conductive Inkjet Printing technology developed by researchers at the University of Saarland.
“Until now, this was not possible”, said researcher Simon Olberding. “Displays were mass-produced, they were inflexible, they always had a rectangular shape.”
Connecting the paper-thin displays to electric voltage makes them emit light, relying on an effect similar to that used to light car dashboards at night.
“We can even print touch-sensitive displays”, said Olberding.
As the method can be used to print on materials like paper, synthetic material, leather, pottery, stone, metal and even wood, two-dimensional and even three-dimensional shapes can be created.
Displays could thus be integrated into almost all thinkable everyday objects including furniture or decorative accessories, bags or clothing.
“If we combine our approach with 3D printing, we can print three-dimensional objects that display information and are touch-sensitive”, said Jürgen Steimle who led the scientific team at the Saarland University.