Written by Kevin Doyle
Pioneering manufacturer Plastic Logic attended June’s Display Week 2012 show in Boston (hosted by the Society for Information Display) hopeful that its visit would generate some fruitful long-term partnerships.
The company’s Vice President, Process Engineering, Dr. Peter Fischer, was more than happy to demonstrate Plastic Logic’s cutting-edge technology for attendees at the company’s booth on the floor of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
Founded by researchers at Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory in 2000, Plastic Logic is a leader in plastic electronics and has devoted its resources to the development of organic thin-film transistor (OTFT) technology. OTFT allows for the placement of electronics on increasingly thin, flexible electro-phoretic sheets made of rugged, durable plastic.
Plastic Logic’s OTFT backplane drives a frontplane patented by E-Ink Corp. and commonly used in e-readers. Plastic Logic’s processes allow for millions of transistors to be placed in each backplane, yielding a highly-detailed final display for screens ranging from one to 11 inches. Although the company abandoned plans to market its own branded e-reader, it has continued to refine the display technology while seeking alliances with OEMs and system integrators within the e-reader market.
“Everyone here (at the Boston show) needs lightweight displays. Our product is continually getting better and our displays are daylight readable. It is flexible, thin and lightweight compared to glass. Everything we do is based on plastic,” Dr. Fischer explains.
Research and product development takes place at the company’s fully automated factory in Dresden, Germany – described by the company’s as the world's “first commercial volume organic electronics factory.” Operations from product assembly to testing are conducted in a clean room environment. Human involvement by technicians outfitted in coveralls that include boots, hoods and gloves is minimal, mostly limited to inspection of items for defects and ensuring that equipment functions properly.
In the long-term, Plastic Logic’s technology could provide paper replacement across the display industry, with novel applications not possible with glass readers also being explored.
“All people, when they see it, are quite amazed by the low weight and how robust the product is – that has been the highest amount of feedback,” Dr. Fischer concludes. “The flexibility will allow us to do some specialty designs that can’t be done with glass. It will take time and partnerships with other companies to bring this to market – but all the big players are here.”