In the recent past, we have experienced a mass of innovations coming from the printing industry: 3D printed houses, food or even bones. The printing of OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) displays with an inkjet printer might be another leap in functional printing and next-generation TVs.

A great challenge for manufacturers of screens such as televisions or smartphones is to be always brighter, sharper, thinner and, of course, cheaper, with their products. OLED generally consume less power than other displays such as LCD (liquid crystal displays). Another advantage of OLED displays is that they can take on any form and size so that they can be used for a great variety of purposes.

From Fine Metal Masks to OLED Inkjet Printing
At the moment, very large OLED TVs cost a small fortune, sometimes starting at $ 4,000 or more. This is because the production of the displays with the traditional technique is costly. For that, manufacturer use repeating arrays of patterned green, red, and blue subpixels, which are played on a fine metal mask to get an RGB coating of the organic materials. This way of production is not effective for mass-production in terms of scalability, efficiency, and performance. In the past, there have been several attempts to print OLED displays but there were two main hurdles to overcome: The performance of the displays was not as good as needed for mass-production due to limitations to the materials and the use of wet ink. Secondly, there were visual disruptions, called mura, in the panels. The reason for mura is the imperfect inkjet droplet deposition onto the substrate on the panel and the fact that the ink usually dries not uniformly on the surface of the substrate.

Printed OLED is the Future
A Californian company called Kateeva claims to has found a solution to these problems. They have developed a printing method to produce OLED displays with inkjet printers. Their method prints directly onto the backplane. Together with Sumitomo Chemical and DuPont they also worked on inks for their OLED printers. With this method materials of at least 50 nanometers thickness can be printed on resulting in a mass-production of printed OLED televisions for around $ 1,000. – at least “that’s what we’re targeting”, says David Flattery, displays manager at DuPont.
What do you think? How will OLED technology for displays develop in the future and how can we make displays even better and cheaper? Leave us a comment below.