Light from a roll: PI-SCALE at LOPEC 2019
Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionise the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP (Dresden, Germany) together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLEDs) integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (19-21 March 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.
Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of technologies and processes for organic electronics and component integration. The team at EMDE development of light GmbH also has many years of experience with the new organic light-emitting diode light (OLED), including development of the world's first OLED luminaire series. OLEDs cannot only emit coloured and wide area light, but they themselves are also extremely low-profile and flexible, allowing them to be integrated into many types and shapes of surfaces. They can even be designed to be transparent and dimmable. To demonstrate the sheer endless potential for employing OLEDs, the designers at EMDE are now integrating flexible OLEDs into a motorcycle jacket for the first time. Used as a material for clothing, OLEDs not only can trigger completely new aesthetic trends, they can also provide active illumination instead of just limited reflectance. This enhanced visibility from all angles means the wearer can be seen more clearly, increasing rider safety.
This is made possible by fabricating the OLEDs on flexible substrates such as plastic films and connecting them to conductive threading for their supply of electrical power. Together with Holst Centre in Eindhoven, Fraunhofer FEP has now for the first time implemented an extended approach for the OLED technology on the joint pilot line service LYTEUS within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE – a hybrid OLED.
Claudia Keibler-Willner, head of department at Fraunhofer FEP, explains: “We have taken a major step forward in economical fabrication processes for OLEDs. The results are impressive: the OLED shines very uniformly. The use of the roll-to-roll process also promises considerable cost reductions for future components. By combining printed and vaporised layers, process throughput and production speed can be increased up to 100 times.”
Clear advantages for designers result – infinitely long materials with practically unrestricted dimensions and configurations can be created. The only limitation is the 30cm roll width of the substrate material. Thomas Emde from EMDE looks ahead: “We are very pleased to present a first design demonstrator using the hybrid OLEDs from the EU project PI-SCALE at LOPEC 2019. After examining the first samples, we decided on a prototype that would combine imagination with a practical application. We exhibit a few metres of the hybrid OLED in its raw form from the roll as a "pure" material component. Its transformation into a future product is illustrated through the example of our eye catcher motorcycle jacket with luminous, integrated, flexible OLEDs. This will suggest the potential of OLEDs as an innovative surface material for interior design and product applications, fashion and textile designs, and architectural and signage uses.”
The Fraunhofer FEP and EMDE teams want to tackle challenges of fabrication and integration of OLEDs with different surfaces jointly in the future and are open to further development projects with industrial partners.
The exhibits can be seen during LOPEC 2019 in Munich, in Hall B0, booth 407 and in the OE-A competition area. In addition, the aforementioned design demonstrator from EMDE, as well as other design kits from Fraunhofer FEP have been submitted to this year's OE-A Competition.
Caption: An ‘illuminated’ motorcycle jacket (photo: Fraunhofer FEP)