Novel Applications for Print Technologies Provide High Growth Opportunities
By 2020 OLED displays will be a viable alternative to paper for books, newspapers and magazines. Clean rooms will be one of the requirements of success, according to the study. E-readers and public displays will grow on trains, buses and transport stops, plus retailers and public areas; attracting advertising and promotional revenue.
Manufacturers are looking for inexpensive ways to produce bigger OLED displays on flexible substrates to use as room lighting. OLED TV displays with 40in diagonal screens have been introduced but movie screens are some way off. Current concepts for largearea OLEDs have reached the limit of manufacturing and quality. Printed OLEDs could be the solution. OLED displays are more energy-efficient than liquid crystal displays (LCDs), which require a backlight, especially when the image content is largely dark areas, often the case with movies. OLEDs offer sharper contrast than a conventional backlit LCD and achieve contrast levels of up to 1 million to 1. With no need for a backlight, they can be made very thin. Manufacturers have already introduced OLED screens that are 3mm thick.
The study finds that photovoltaics will offer potential for web-fed print experts to coat, print and finish large volumes to very high specifications. Huge volumes of low-cost, reasonably efficient solar panels will be widely used. Printers could be contract manufacturers in emerging countries with no power utility grid. There will be tremendous opportunities to develop and market the fluids and inks.
Increasingly, the new photovoltaics will be co-printed with batteries and other components. According to the study, they will even form part of the new industries concerned with stretchable electronics in healthcare and electronic smart packaging. People are working on edible electronics and electronics that morph into different shapes. Wristwatches are being developed that charge the battery from transparent photovoltaics over the viewing glass, so the battery lasts longer than the watch. Photovoltaic power sources in space satellites need radiation and heat tolerance, very high efficiency and very light weight. They have complex multilayer constructions using thin films, often involving gallium and germanium. Broad widths of tape unrolled alongside hundreds of kilometres of road could power signage and lighting; here cost is more critical than efficiency. New organic photocells made by high-speed printing may provide cost benefits even at 5–6% efficiency, although new materials and methods may do better.