A paper-thin, flexible, rollable, touch-sensitive screen has been created by researchers. and the best thing is that it can be printed by anyone, even at home.
It almost sounds too good to be true, but researchers have made the screen that can be integrated with existing electronics and can be printed on to almost anything. The displays can also be produced rapidly and inexpensively.
It could lead to anyone being able to create displays for almost any items, if the technology can be successfully commercialised, say the researchers from Max Planck Institute for Informatics and Saarland University.
At present they have made five different types of displays: an interactive watchstrap, a printed game of Pong, an awareness flower and an interactive paper postcard, and have also integrated the technology to work with pre-existing electronics.
“Instead of buying an off-the-shelf display, the designer can create a custom digital design, which meets the specific demands of the application, and then simply print the display.”
“Printing customised flexible displays empowers makers and designs to create customised interactive print products, digital signage, smart objects, personalised computing devices and crafts with embedded display,” they said, writing in their research paper.
The work gives huge potential to the customisation of screens that can be printed and placed anywhere.
Simon Olberding, who worked on the project, said: “Until now, this was not possible.”
“Displays were mass-produced, they were inflexible, they always had a rectangular shape. We can even print touch-sensitive displays”, says Olberding.
“If we combine our approach with 3D printing, we can print three-dimensional objects that display information and are touch-sensitive”, explains Steimle.
They designed the system so that almost anyone can use it to print. It is said that the user can design a template using Word or PowerPoint and then print them out, although in their paper it mentions using Adobe Illustrator to create the designs.
The displays are based on thin-film electroluminescence. The researchers say that electroluminescent displays are very roboust and last up to 50,000 hours – which is close to six years if being used 24 hours a day.
The display will emit light if it is connected to a low current power source, due to electrodes which act as a capacitor.
They can then be printed using screen or conductive inkjet printing.
Images courtesy of PrintScreen