Printing Impressions

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Printed Paper Speakers Created by pmTUC Provide Good Sound Quality

May 3, 2012
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DUSSELDORF, GERMANY—May 3, 2012—At drupa, the world’s largest fair on print media technology, the Institute for Print and Media Technology of Chemnitz University of Technology (pmTUC) presents new research results, which truly make you prick up your ears: Loudspeakers that have been printed with flexography on standard paper. The R&D group of Prof. Dr. Arved Hübler, head of pmTUC, is co-exhibitor of press manufacturer Windmöller & Hölscher KG (Lengerich) and can be found in hall 15, booth A41/1.

The printed paper loudspeaker is connected to an audio amplifier like a conventional loudspeaker. "Frequency response, and hence sound quality, are very good and the paper is surprisingly loud. Just the bass of the paper-based loudspeaker is a bit weak,” explains Dr. Georg Schmidt, senior researcher at pmTUC.

The thin loudspeakers, which are printed in the laboratories of pmTUC, contain several layers of a conductive organic polymer and a piezoactive layer. According to project assistant Maxi Bellmann the loudspeakers are astonishingly robust and can be produced in a very cheap way as mass printing methods are used. The bottom side of the paper loudspeaker provides unused space on which coloured messages can be printed.

Prof. Hübler expects a broad range of new applications: The paper loudspeakers could, for instance, be integrated into common print products. As such, they offer an enormous potential for the advertising segment.

"In addition, sound wallpapers and purely technical applications, e.g., distance sensors, are possible, because the papers are also active in the ultrasound range,” says Hübler and adds: "As printing allows for different formats and forms, there is the possibility to influence the generated sound waves.”

The loudspeaker of pmTUC was realized within the framework of the project Plastic Acoustics (PACU), which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and includes the following project partners: Robert Bosch GmbH (Stuttgart), Heraeus Clevios GmbH (Leverkusen), X-Spex GmbH (Berlin), and Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS (Chemnitz).

Electricity that grows on trees

Besides printed loudspeakers, pmTUC presents innovative application scenarios for printed solar cells. "Half a year ago, we introduced the world’s first 3PV technology--printed paper photovoltaics, says Hübler. At drupa, the Chemnitz researchers exhibit a solar tree with 50 printed solar leaves. Similar to an ordinary tree, the leaves that face the sun collect energy. They are connected with snap fasteners. Via a cable in the hollow tree trunk the solar electricity supplies a battery.
 
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