Custom Design and 3D Print Your Own Flexible Interactive Displays With PrintScreen

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Saarland University

PrintScreen is a small strip of film that contains a big wow factor.

It’s not enough for a company just to have a cool concept–items streamlining your life and entertainment needs require a sleek, streamlined design that simply does not inconvenience you. We want products to help us, not ones which get in our way or require high maintenance.

Created by researchers Simon Olberding, Michael Wessely, and Jürgen Steimle from the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and Saarland University in Germany, PrintScreen is an interactice display meant to be fabricated by everyday people from their own printers, with a variety of materials. The product is flexible, lightweight, and best of all  you can create it yourself, choosing function, application, set-up and material of the strip, and type of printer, depending on quality required at the time. It can be used for mobile, embedded, or wearable applications, like a smartwatch, for instance, and can be integrated with other additive manufacturing techniques like the 3D printing of thermoplastics, to create all kinds of interesting electronic devices.

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Using thin-film electroluminescence (TFEL), Printscreen offers users a product that is affordable and can be made quickly and in volume at home or in the office. The product is printed in only four layers, using phosphoric ink, which provides the luminescence. It is easily processed, with low curing temperatures, and works with traditional 2D desktop printers. Because it prints in several different layers, this could be considered ‘3d printing’ technology to a degree.

The designer can choose from single-segmented, multi-segmented or matrix displays which can be printed on PET film, office paper, leather, and ceramics.

The  display is:14

  • Highly luminescent
  • Very thin and lightweight
  • Bendable
  • Fully rollable, and even foldable

The displays can be used as:

  • Interactive print products
  • Digital signage
  • Smart objects
  • Personalized computing devices and arts and crafts

PrintScreen offers examples (see video below) of the technology being offered as an interactive device attached to a plant leaf near the user’s desk called the ‘Awareness Flower,’ an interactive postcard, an interactive watchstrap, a printed Pong game (are we back to Pong?), and as a display integrated within electronics. While the PrintScreen strips can definitely offer convenience and fun, they are also meant to serve as mobile computer interfaces for researchers and scientists.

Do you know what you need for an integrated display? Would you like to design it? It all starts with the digital design—and you do not need to be an expert. PrintScreen tested the products on users who had no previous knowledge of the product. With their only education or help being online tutorials and videos, it took them three to five hours to figure out the concept and a full day to get familiar with the theory.

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The Internet of Everything is finally on its way to the mainstream, as easy to create and use products like PrintScreen come to market. Is PrintScreen something you would like to try? Share your thoughts with us in the PrintScreen forum at 3DPB.com.  Check out the video below for further details on this remarkable process.

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