The prospect of more affordable large screen OLED TVs has taken another step towards becoming reality with the announcement by DuPont that it has developed a manufacturing process that can be used to print large, high-performance OLED TVs cost effectively. The announcement could see OLED TVs become more widespread and affordable than the pint-sized and prohibitively-priced offerings that we have been restricted to until now.

OLEDs have attracted much attention as the next big thing in display technology with their ability to provide high contrast and bright displays with high response times and wide viewing angles while remaining extremely thin and energy efficient. Because they don’t rely on backlighting they eliminate the need for many of the LCD components, such as backlights and color filters.

Until now, consumer products sporting OLED displays have been limited to mobile devices such as cell phones or small screen TVs like the Sony’s 11-inch XEL-1 and LG’s EL9500 which, at 15 inches, is the largest OLED TV on the market. Such products rely on a technique called shadow-mask evaporation to pattern the light-emitting organic molecules that make up the pixels on these displays, which is expensive and limited to small-scale displays.

DuPont says that using its proprietary DuPont Gen 3 solution OLED materials will enable the manufacture of larger screen TVs as it allows larger OLEDs to be printed at cost-effective volumes while delivering the performance and lifetime that has so many people excited about the new technology.

“OLED displays in portable devices are available in the market today, but the current high cost of manufacturing with evaporated materials has limited market adoption and constrained OLED manufacturing for larger size displays,” said David Miller, president – DuPont Electronics & Communications. “Now, with DuPont printed OLED materials and process technology, fabrication costs can be significantly reduced, and manufacturing can be scaled to accommodate TV-size displays.”

The new process DuPont developed along with Dainippon Screen uses a multi-nozzle printer that works like a garden hose to deposit inks that contain active molecules that are insoluble in adjacent layers. It prints the ink in a continuous stream, rather than droplets, and moves over a surface at rates of 4-5m per second while patterning a display.

There have also been concerns about the longevity of OLED materials, but DuPont says its red, green and blue OLED materials can produce displays that can be operational for eight hours a day and last 15 years - surely long enough to survive until the next, next big thing in display technology hits the shelves.