Breakthrough Could Help You 3D Print OLED Displays at Home

You might not have to send in your devices (or buy replacement parts) if the screen breaks – you can just make new screens yourself. Researchers at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities have developed what they say is the first fully 3D printed flexible OLED display. In theory, you wouldn’t have to depend on panels made in large, remote factories to build or repair your gadgets.

The new approach combines two 3D printing methods to print the six layers necessary for a functional display. The team used extrusion printing to fabricate the electrodes, encapsulation, insulation, and interconnects, while the active layers were spray painted at room temperature. Previous attempts by various teams have encountered problems with uniformity of light (consistency across the entire panel) or have relied on techniques other than 3D printing to put certain components in place, such as by coating. centrifugation or thermal evaporation.

The prototype was only 1.5 inches wide and only used 64 pixels. Any practical use would require much higher resolutions (a 1080p display requires over 2 million pixels), and scientists are also keen to improve brightness. Adapting the technology for home use can also take some time. The university used a custom 3D printer that costs as much as a Tesla Model S. It may take a while for the method to be viable on standard printers, including even high-end models like $ 4,850 3B +. FormLabs.

The very nature of the technology makes these goals relatively achievable, however, and opens the door to a lot of possibilities if and when home printed OLED displays come in handy. In addition to do-it-yourself repairs, it could help you create homebrew gadgets with custom screens. While this effort doesn’t quite represent the democratization of tech manufacturing (there are a lot more parts than screens, after all), it could reduce your reliance on pre-assembled components from companies. .

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