The 2.5-years €11 million R2Flex project recently concluded. The project, which aimed to develop new technologies for efficient and affordable flexible OLEDs manufactured using a roll-to-roll (R2R) process, presented a flexible OLED desk luminaire prototype. It uses two OLED lighting panels, produced at COMEDD and serially connected via flexible contacting.

The flexible OLED panel was produced on a metal foil. Metal was chosen because it is a cost-effective substrate as one of the key goals in the project was lowering the production cost of OLEDs.

OLED on metal foil image

As part of the project, the Fraunhofer COMEDD improved its R2R research line and developed new patterning and encapsulation technologies. They say that they also established new technology that can transfer OLED processes from rigid substrates to roll-to-roll processes.

R2Flex OLED desk luminaire side photo



The main challenge in this project was to develop deposition technology of complex OLED structures. Performing this process within a roll-to-roll line was a complex task, but it was concluded successfully. Tridonic Dresden evaluated technologies for the secure and cost-efficient electrical contacting of flexible OLED on metal substrates and their integration in luminaries. The task of contacting through the barrier film was solved together with Fraunhofer COMEDD.

Other partners in this project include Novaled Fraunhofer IPMS, CreaPhys, Heliatek, Von Ardenne Conditioning and Laytek.

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Cost reduction

With this technology there should be a good chance for a significant cost reduction in the production of OLED-Lighting (today OLED end user lamps cost some thousend Euro per piece) and a fabrication in Europe. Especially because Tridonic is involved: After their fusion with Zumtobel they say, that there is a good chance, that the first flexible OLED Lighting solution for end users will come 2014 or 2015 (http://computer-oiger.de/2013/07/18/zumtobel-ubernimmt-dresdner-organikleuchten-firma-ledon/23359).

One gotta be careful as the

One gotta be careful as the term "roll-to-roll" is used very loosely these days (not just in this case).

As I understand it what was done in this project is the following: They used a vacuum deposition process to deposit the OLED on a flexible substrate. This substrate could then be used in a roll-to-roll process for the production of the lighting panels.

The basic OLED deposition however was still done by vacuum deposition, so I am not sure how cost effective this can really get. The real revolutionary step will be to get rid of the vacuum deposition step in a mass production setup.

R2R thermal evaporation

As far as I know, a R2R tool for thermal evaporation was used in this project.

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