3D Printing

New 3D printing technique enables freeform, transparent OLED displays

New 3D printing technique enab...
A 2-stage 3D printing process can create OLED screens of any shape, embedded in transparent (or opaque) 3D frames of any shape
A 2-stage 3D printing process can create OLED screens of any shape, embedded in transparent (or opaque) 3D frames of any shape
View 4 Images
The multi-stage DLP/e-jet print process
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The multi-stage DLP/e-jet print process
Examples of some transparent 3D shapes with OLED screens printed into them
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Examples of some transparent 3D shapes with OLED screens printed into them
A 2-stage 3D printing process can create OLED screens of any shape, embedded in transparent (or opaque) 3D frames of any shape
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A 2-stage 3D printing process can create OLED screens of any shape, embedded in transparent (or opaque) 3D frames of any shape
The team went so far as to create a set of AR glasses with printed lenses, including OLED screens capable of responding to wireless inputs
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The team went so far as to create a set of AR glasses with printed lenses, including OLED screens capable of responding to wireless inputs

A materials science and engineering team from Korea's Yonsei University has developed a 3D printing technique enabling OLED screens to be printed into transparent structures of any shape, meaning nearly anything can become a see-through color display.

Published in the open access Advanced Science journal, the team aimed to take the development and manufacturing of complex screen shapes to the next level by printing both a 3D support structure and the 3D screen electronics. Current technology would generally require 3D structures to be fitted with linked 2D screens, whereas this technique enables designers to create screens of virtually any shape, without requiring any extra thermal annealing steps.

The method uses a Digital Light Processing (DLP) system to print the transparent plastic "frames," with gaps where the screens are to sit, and then moves to a five-axis electrohydrodynamic jet (e-jet) printer which can build up an OLED screen using the following layers:

  1. a bottom transparent electrode comprising a matrix of silver nanowires
  2. a pixel defining layer made of photocurable polyurethane
  3. a hole transport layer using poly(ethylenedioxythiophene):polystyrene sulfonate
  4. a light emission layer using (try saying this fast) 4,4′‐bis[4‐(di‐p‐tolylamino)styryl]biphenyl‐doped 2‐tert‐butyl‐9,10‐di(naphtha‐2‐yl)anthracene – either that, or SPW-111, which is much easier to say
  5. an electron transfer layer made from poly[(9,9‐bis(3′‐(N,N‐dimethylamino)propyl)‐2,7‐fluorene)‐alt‐2,7‐(9,9‐dioctylfluorene)]
  6. a top transparent electrode made from a similar matrix of silver nanowires as the bottom one
The multi-stage DLP/e-jet print process
The multi-stage DLP/e-jet print process

The full paper is available if that list still doesn't satisfy your curiosity, but the upshot is that screens can now be printed in completely freeform shapes, embedded directly into transparent or opaque "frames" that can also be any shape. A transparent spherical screen in a snow globe. Augmented reality screens printed directly into eyeglass lenses. That sort of thing. The researchers created several prototypes, including the objects below:

Examples of some transparent 3D shapes with OLED screens printed into them
Examples of some transparent 3D shapes with OLED screens printed into them

They also went a step further by building a set of AR glasses with printed transparent OLED lenses capable of responding to wireless controls from a smartphone:

The team went so far as to create a set of AR glasses with printed lenses, including OLED screens capable of responding to wireless inputs
The team went so far as to create a set of AR glasses with printed lenses, including OLED screens capable of responding to wireless inputs

The researchers say the method could be sped up significantly, as the e-jet printer they were using only has a single print nozzle. They also believe new printable encapsulation materials may be able to increase the lifespan of these OLED screens thanks to lower permeability to water and oxygen.

Source: Advanced Science (Wiley Online Library) via 3Dprint.com

1 comment
guzmanchinky
I immediately thought of the scene in the new Blade Runner where she is getting her nails done while piloting an attack drone...