The EU launched a new €11.2-million 3-year project called Flex-o-Fab that aims to help commercialize flexible OLEDs within six years. The project partners will create a a pilot-scale modular yet integrated manufacturing chain for flexible OLEDs, and use it to develop reliable fabrication / production processes.
The Flex-o-Fab project will draw on technologies and expertise already used to produce glass-based OLEDs and flexible displays. It will look to migrate existing sheet-to-sheet processes to roll-to-roll (R2R) production to further reduce costs and enable high-volume production. The encapsulation, one of the key challenges of flexible panel production, will be the multilayer barrier technology developed by Holst Centre. The project will also develop novel anode technologies that will need to be transparent with low resistivity, reliable, robust and scalable for R2R production on foil substrates.
Other challenges include developing suitable and possibly functionalized polymer foils (by DTF) for R2R flexible OLED production; robust inspection and quality control technologies (by Orbotech) for high-yield manufacturing; reliable handling methods for processing on polymer foil substrates (by Henkel, Holst Centre, CSEM and Philips) and high-performance flexible OLED stack on foil (by Philips).
Flex-o-Fab aims to have a proof-of-concept pilot line operational by September 2015. Although the project focuses on OLED lighting, its results could also be applied to other emerging flexible electronics applications, such as organic photovoltaic (OPV) solar cells, flexible displays and smart food packaging. To further speed up industrialization, the project aims to develop a universal substrate foil that could be used for both OLED and OPV applications.
The Flex-o-Fab consortium members are: Holst Centre / TNO (Project coordinator), Philips, Orbotech, the Institute of Microengineering, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Henkel Electronics Materials N.V, SPGPrints, Epigem, Tampere University of Technology, Roth & Rau Microsystems , Dupont Teijin Films and CSEM.