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Ink Breakthrough Heralds Bendy PC Screens 140

Posted by timothy
from the 1001-positions-for-computing dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers claim to have developed a type of soluble semiconductor ink which could help to make bendable computer screens a reality. Developed at Polyera and BASF Future Business, the ink carries an N-Type negative charge. Previously, semiconductor inks have only been able to carry a positive charge. The new ink can be printed onto any flexible material, including plastic and paper, using only a modified ink-jet printer."
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Ink Breakthrough Heralds Bendy PC Screens

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  • by Swordopolis (1159065) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:25PM (#26565997)
    As if I didn't already spend enough money on those damn cartridges.
    • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:38PM (#26566187)
      Can't be more than the $8,000 a gallon we're all currently paying.
      • SHHHHHHH! Don't tempt them!
      • by H3g3m0n (642800)
        When you consider that you only need to print once then never again, just keep uploading documents to the printed screen, you will probably save money.
        • Great, now that I'm heavily invested in paper shredders THIS comes along... Well, I guess I'll be OK until the banks finish screwing us all, they will need the shredders for old stuff like evidence of wrong doing.
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman @ g m a i l . c om> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:48PM (#26566343) Homepage Journal

      Somewhat off topic, but I just had to share.

      As if I didn't already spend enough money on those damn cartridges.

      That right there is why I decided to purchase a laser printer. The Brother MFC-7840W may cost $300 up front ($238 from Amazon w/free shipping), but the cartridges are only $46 and last for thousands of pages. (Standard cartridge is rated at 1,500 pages, though you can get more out of it.) In addition, the unit is an office-quality copier, scanner, and fax machine. All over a wireless network.

      I've gotten into the habit of scanning my documents to PDF, then sticking the original paper version into a "safe place" where I'm sure it will never be found again. Which doesn't worry me because I can electronically pull the document and reprint. Because it's a laser, reprinting is not an issue now that I don't have to wait all friggin' day for my printouts!

      Sure, there's no color. But it's not like I've been trying to get a color printer anyway. Compare to the HP and Lexmark I had previously where the ink cost twice as much, "dried up" before I managed to print more than 50 pages (stupid protection circuitry), had the flimsiest of paper trays that could only hold a dozen sheets, would only work if both the color and BW cartridges were full, and regularly crumpled the paper and jammed while they ponderously swung the print head back and forth.

      I'm never going back to inkjets. Ever. I'd rather live without a printer than subject myself to such horrors again. If anyone here is thinking of making a printer purchase, consider upgrading to a laser. You'll save yourselves a fortune in the long run, and you'll send a message to these greedy printer companies that we don't want to deal with their crappy ink cartridges any longer.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I purchased a Kodak ESP 9 All-in-One Printer for $299. I am amazed at how cheap the ink is for it compared to my old Epson. $20 gets you a black and color cartridge with 120 sheets of 4" x 6" photo paper. You have to put a little more money up front but in the long run I think it will save a tan on $$$$$.
        • I'm only interested in black and white prints so this doesn't apply to me, but you may want to be wary of the cost of Kodak paper. The word on the street is that their ink costs are lower, but they make up the difference by requiring you to use their special paper to get good colors. Alternative photo papers don't appear to work because of a difference in the texturing of the paper. (The printer can't feed it properly.)

          The other issue to watch out for is driver bizarreness. Various reports have complained o

          • by Macgrrl (762836)

            To get the best quality output form inkjet printers requires coated papers. There are a number of finishes available, but most of them use paper coated in a ceramic slurry on one side. Price ill vary according to manufacturer and grade/weight of paper.

            You can use 'laser' grade paper with inkjets, but won't get the same sharpness or colourfastness as you would with coated stock. It really depends on how important that is for your document whether it is worth the investment.

            'Laser' grade paper is also dusty b

          • Hey, you can buy color laser printers starting at 99€ ($128,54) [preistrend.de] here in Germany! They are not great, but you can always go a little bit up in price. You'd still be in a good price range. (Like the first HP, coming up on the list,) And they can't be worse than ink printers, can they? ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Urza9814 (883915)

        Seconded, though I prefer the Brother HL-2040. Got it from Amazon for $70. Hell, by the time I finished the toner it came with it had paid for itself. It's rated for 2,500 pages, and I get them refilled locally for $30. Compare that to HP's ink cartridges, which will run you $30+ for around 800 pages. So, you pay $90 for 2400 pages worth of HP ink, or $70 for a laser printer that comes with a full toner cartridge (and it was a _full_ cartridge, not one of those crappy half cartridges). I still have the old

      • That right there is why I decided to purchase a laser printer.

        Seconded. It's been said a million times (at least by me), but if you print lots, get a laser. If you don't, have Walmarts/Kinkos/the local shop do it for you.
      • by dissy (172727)

        I'm never going back to inkjets. Ever. I'd rather live without a printer than subject myself to such horrors again. If anyone here is thinking of making a printer purchase, consider upgrading to a laser. You'll save yourselves a fortune in the long run, and you'll send a message to these greedy printer companies that we don't want to deal with their crappy ink cartridges any longer.

        I can't agree more!

        I've had an old HP LaserJet 4mv for the last 15 years, and only just now am having issues finding toner for such an old printer in local stores.

        I was just looking at color lasers recently (hey, color is cool!) and found a nice one similarly spec'ed like yours but without the scanner/fax part, for $250. Sadly, black ink is $48, and there are 3 color toner carts that are $42 each. Thats like $200 in ink, which for now is making me delay the purchase.

        But I have firmly decided to do without

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @08:32PM (#26568597)

        Disclaimer: I'm in the remanufactured ink and laser industry

        Here are a few routes you can go:
        I prefer HP. If you have to have color, get an HP Business Inkjet Printer. They take the HP 88XL black cartridge, which is rated at around 2500 pages. An aftermarket cartridge should cost $20. This matches the price per page of an entry level laser cartridges, such as an HP Q2612A.

        For anything else, eBay is your friend. More modern laser cartridges tend to give you less pages for more dollars. Cartridges like the 92298X (which are very old) do over 8800 pages (at 5% page coverage, think newspaper text). A decent aftermarket 98X should cost ~$60.

        If you need a color laser, I prefer the HP printer that takes the Q6000 series. They are not too big machines, and the toner isn't too expensive.

        If you want to reman your own (I highly suggest you don't), A few of the Brother toner cartridges would be a way to go. Most of them are :

        a. Dump in Toner
        b. Reset a gear
        c. Print.

        The older ones don't have a drum built into the toner cartridge, which also helps for a home reman.

        Less than a cent per page is easily achieved, even if you buy decent quality re manufactured product.

        Uh oh, here comes my boss. Back to work.

        • Back in the day, I used to have an Epson laser printer. The manufacturer stopped producing toner after only a year or two of service. Which was really enough to peeve anyone off, considering how much they cost back then. By remanufacturing the same cartridge over and over, the printer was able to last for YEARS after Epson gave up on the unit. And since the cartridges held so much ink back them (big bastards, too!) remanufacturing only needed to be done every year or so. Thankfully the drum held out too (it

      • by aperion (1022267)

        What sits idle better for long period of time? Does toner start to clump together if you haven't printed in a month? Ink start to soak through? I go through a cartridge maybe every year, maybe two. our printer is typically regulated to map print outs on the way to somewhere I've never been.

        • I'm not sure if I can give a good answer on the Brother yet, but my experience with laser printers in the past has been that Laser toner holds up better over time than inkjet cartridges. It's not entirely clear if the ink dries up or it's completely the fault of the protection circuitry, but the inkjets I've used stop putting sufficient ink on the paper if I let them sit for a month or two. I have never had that problem with a laser. In fact, I've previously let lasers sit for months at a time and still got

        • by phulegart (997083)

          Laser printers and copiers sit better over time, compared to ink-based printers. Of course, moisture does play a part in this. If you move the laser copier/printer out to the shed in back, and leave it for a year, yes, you are going to have problems. If you close the door to your office, and go on sabbatical for 6 months, when you come back that laser copier/printer will print just fine.

          The ink in the channels, the ink in the print head, and in some cases in the very cartridge (Xerox had these thin littl

      • by Wraithlyn (133796)

        Hear hear!

        I have an ancient NEC Superscript 660i laser printer. I think I got it in '96 or so.

        This thing is so old the only way to install the actual proper NEC drivers is to download FLOPPY DISK IMAGES and run them from 1.44MB discs.

        It's so old they only have drivers for Win 3.1/9x, but that's OK because I can use a standard HP Laserjet 4p driver with it.

        It's so old that the paper hopper is missing/broken, I am using a playing card as a paper guide, and I am holding the front panel in place with scotch ta

        • I'm amazed the drum made it this long. I mean, the drums on those old lasers were usually pretty hearty, but 13 years is pushing it! :-)

          • by Macgrrl (762836)

            I can't remember for certain whether this applies to the Superscripts, but many desktop later printer cartridges incorporate the drum, especially those with a higher yield (in excess of 4k pages).

            • by Wraithlyn (133796)

              The toner cartridge was very large, it probably could've included the drum. I wouldn't know how to tell the difference though. :)

      • by mjwx (966435)

        I've gotten into the habit of scanning my documents to PDF, then sticking the original paper version into a "safe place" where I'm sure it will never be found again.

        Guy: What's that (points to iron door in wall)? AKAImBatman: disused furnace. Guy: What do you use it for? AKAImBatman: Document storage.

      • I got the Brother 9840CDW for pretty much the same reasons and am happy with that decision. But the inkjet still has it's place. Al you do is wait for one to go on sale, like the Brother MFC 465CN which was on sale here for less than the price of the ink cartridges that it contained. Then sell the ink cartridges - now the net cost of printer/scanner/etc. is $0 and for that you get a great collection of servos, gears, stepper motors, scan sensors, rubber rollers etc. - all FREE!
  • Remind me again... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jonah Bomber (535788) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:25PM (#26566001)
    Why, exactly, do we need bendy computer screens?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:30PM (#26566079)

      in 15 years you'll be wondering how we survived without them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Portability. Was that really so hard to figure out?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Swordopolis (1159065)
        Precisely. Imagine being able to fit your computer screen into a purse or backpack. Or a big-screen display into a poster tube.
        • In the movie Red Planet [wikipedia.org], they used a portable "X-ray"-like machine to see broken bones, IIRC.

          They unrolled it and held it over the person directly, and a "X-ray"-like image was displayed immediately.

          This was a great "wow" factor. Not even Star Trek comes close.

          • by Starayo (989319)
            Pity everyone involved in using such a thing would probably get cancer.
            • by Facetious (710885)
              Or, at the very least, find that their chocolate bars have melted in their pockets.
              • by FelixNZ (1426093)
                Is that really a half melted chocolate bar in your pocket? or are you just impressed by my flaccid flatscreen?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well obviously it's so that we can... umm.. well, you see a screen that bends would be... Oh I know! You could use one for... Hey, what's that behind you? *runs away*
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Imagine a flexible screen. Now, imagine a flexible screen that slowly degrades every time you bend it (whether you deliberately bend the screen or accidentally). Now imagine planned obsolescence. Now imagine two companies, one makes a durable product that's expensive, the other makes a cheap disposable product. Which one is more profitable?

    • by c_jonescc (528041) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:40PM (#26566231)
      One reason is so that you can roll it up for small storage. Just think if you could take a 30" monitor with you in your carry on.... All the real estate you'd ever want with a netbook while traveling.

      I worked on LCDs for years, and the grail was always the rollup screen. One nifty use is that your window shades can be your displays - during the day the sun is your light source (talk about green!), and when you use the display you're shutting out the outside light automatically. At night or for interiors you can light traditionally.
      • by ozbird (127571)
        Don't forget to pack four bricks to pin down the corners of your portable bendy monitor so it doesn't roll back up again.
        • by aj50 (789101)

          What do I want it lying down for?

          I'd expect some sort of fold out frame

      • by Flentil (765056)
        If portability was really the problem, shouldn't we be looking at micro projectors instead, or even better, imax glasses?
    • by TBoon (1381891)
      I don't think *computer screens* is where this will be used first. But depending on power-requirements I can easily imagine "designer" watches with displays pretty much all around them and other utterly useless (but oh-so-geeky) pieces of clothing.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:53PM (#26566411) Journal

      Same reason we need bendy paper.

      • by amRadioHed (463061) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:06PM (#26566591)

        Bah. If stone tablets were good enough for the 10 Commandments, they're good enough for me.

        • Why when we were young all we had to write on was unobtanium! Needless to say, not a lot ever got written down...and we were grateful!!
        • by Samah (729132)

          Bah. If stone tablets were good enough for the 10 Commandments, they're good enough for me.

          Yeah, but didn't Moses break the tablets? If he'd asked God to print them on a bendy screen he probably would have had to bash it until there were enough dead pixels.
          (Footnote: this requires electricity...)

        • by SeePage87 (923251)
          +5 funny? I'd have given it insightful. He's exactly right in his analogy, the flexibility of paper as a writing surface over more rigid surfaces adds a great deal to it's usefulness. An ultra thin and flexible screen would add just as much over these comparably huge and cumbersome LCDs we're using now.
      • Origami!
    • It's so that girls can change the color of their fingernails just by touching them, just like in Total Recall.

      http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=Fingernail+color+%22Total+Recall%22&btnG=Search&meta= [google.ca]

    • Why, exactly, do we need bendy computer screens?

      So that Val Kilmer can navigate the surface of Mars, of course.

      • Darn, same thoughts exactly! The rolled-up display (with integrated "X-ray"-like scanner) was way, way, way cool.

    • Ever think of what a newspaper could be like if it was simply a large, foldable, flexible screen on which you download your daily news? Just think - get a "newspaper" delivered once per week. It downloads the most recent news constantly via wifi or some type of cell adapter (think Minority Report). Now the failing newspaper companies suddenly have a way to bring back the morning paper, and now, they can sell unlimited pages of ads and fill it with unlimited content, all accessible via page flip buttons,
      • Join the Mobile Infantry and save the Galaxy. Service guarantees citizenship. Would you like to know more?
        • Join the Mobile Infantry and save the Galaxy. Service guarantees citizenship. Would you like to know more?

          Where do I sign up to squash bugs?

      • by LilGuy (150110)

        I imagine it would be about as annoying as trying to read online articles right now. Reading 2 paragraphs interrupted by 2 or 3 ads, and then having to hit next page through more of the same 5 times to read what should have been a 1 page article.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by troll8901 (1397145)

        ... imagine touching a hyperlink with your finger on a page to read more about an article ... with a "more" link at the bottom of each article.

        And readers can comment on each article, and rate one another's comments up or down, and label them as Interesting, Insightful, etc.

        Now do you see how this could be used?

        Not really. Who's going to use such features?

    • One thing I think would be really cool is basically an iPhone with tactile feedback. Imagine a grid of small click-able buttons behind a flexible touch screen. Software can then match up a virtual keyboard, menu items, etc. to the underlying buttons, so that you can both feel when you've clicked and tell where it thinks you clicked based on the way the screen depresses.

    • by grangerg (309284)
      Because wrap-around screens would be really cool for games, if nothing else. I would like to see a "dry" version of what the ProtoType This guys did in their virtual sea adventure [grandideastudio.com] episode. A hemispherical screen (minus the projector of course) would be awesome.
    • by MarkvW (1037596)

      Can you imagine a combat flight simulator with a bendy screen that covers a whole hemisphere! There is cool . . . and then there is insanely cool!!!!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jlidberg (1459347)
      Finally you can get a working printscreen on your pc
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rei (128717)

      Why, exactly, do we need bendy computer screens?

      You got the... the light... from the console... keep you... lift you up. They shine like... ... little angels...

  • by McCat (1438893)
    "Which could help make bendable computer screens a reality" -- Is it just me, or, aren't bendable screens already a reality?
  • by dragonjujotu (1395759) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:25PM (#26566009)
    Am I missing something? Even TFA doesn't say how this is a major step forward for bendable computer screens.
    • by mfh (56)

      Because it takes a negative charge, the screen is powered by evil and therefore is able to writhe in evil intent!

  • Cool, but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by lixee (863589) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:26PM (#26566015)
    The article is very light, but let it be known that N-type organic semiconductors have conductivities that are orders of magnitude lower than their P-type counterparts. They are usually much less stable too. If they managed to get something that doesn't need inert athmosphere, encapsulation and can transport a fraction of charges the p-type conjugated materials do, it would be a breakthrough. But I'm really not holding my breath. As someone working in the field, it sounds like vaporware to me.
    • Agreed. Flexible screens are like the fusion power of consumer electronics: always just a few years away.

  • by Proteus (1926) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:29PM (#26566061) Homepage Journal

    It's possible this "could" lead to bendable screens, but the technology isn't complete enough to be used in that way.

    Saying this tech could lead to bendable screens is a lot like saying that nanotubes "could lead to" a space elevator.

  • Holy crap! (Score:5, Funny)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:33PM (#26566115)

    the ink carries an N-Type negative charge. Previously, semiconductor inks have only been able to carry a positive charge.

    Do you have any idea what this means?! The possibilities are mind-boggling! You'll be able to put the batteries in backwards!

    • Re:Holy crap! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101@@@gmail...com> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:53PM (#26566409) Homepage Journal

      Do you have any idea what this means?! The possibilities are mind-boggling! You'll be able to put the batteries in backwards!

      This reminds me of a funny story (funny to hardware geek types, at least)... when I was about 13 or so, I was playing around with circuit diagrams and came up with an incredible invention that I felt sure was going to make me a fortune!

      I invented a way for batteries to be put into a device in any direction. I showed my invention, that used only four diodes, to my electronic engineer father and his engineer friend who happened to be there. His friend said, laughing, "Yeah, I've needed one of those on occasion." I couldn't figure out why they found it funny.

      (of course, I had just invented the full wave rectifier [wikipedia.org], not typically used for batteries, alas)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        They should use them though, not having to worry about which way round batteries went would be nice.

        I wonder if you could incorporate the rectifier into the battery itself, and get a battery that could be inserted into any device either way round?

        • They should use them though, not having to worry about which way round batteries went would be nice.

          They probably don't because there's a power loss from the diodes. You're going to get some amount of current flowing through the reversed diodes. The convenience of having reversible batteries is not worth the loss in battery life.

          I wonder if you could incorporate the rectifier into the battery itself, and get a battery that could be inserted into any device either way round?

          Well, that would only help ens

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Angst Badger (8636)

      Finally, Trekkies are vindicated. You can reverse the polarity!

    • Couldn't you at least add the obvious pun? The possibilities are mind-bending!

  • My notebook computer is that much closer to devolving into a pen-and-paper notebook. I mean, you can already write on tablets. Make them a bit thinner, and more bendy, and what's the difference?
    • Re:Devolution (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman @ g m a i l . c om> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:01PM (#26566525) Homepage Journal

      My notebook computer is that much closer to devolving into a pen-and-paper notebook.

      I believe that's the point. If we can merge the advantages of paper with the advantages of electronic information, there will no longer be such thing as "paper copies". Imagine having a sheet of paper to scribble on. Now imagine that someone half-way around the world can see what you're scribbling. Imagine an architect rolling out blueprints for a client, then making changes right there as they speak. Imagine being able to add annotations to any document without damaging the original. Imagine being able to put up an advertisement poster that never needs to be removed.

      Some of these items can be partially accomplished today with laptops and various display technologies. However, electronic paper would drive down the price of displays and increase the convenience and effectiveness of the interface.

      • by aztektum (170569)

        Not to mention reducing waste. Although once these are ubiquitous and large enough, I imagine the billboard companies will be asking for a bailout.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:41PM (#26566253) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that instead of flexible computer screens (which already exist), this could be more interesting to the hobbyist market where you could sell an inkjet printer that had conductive ink cartridges to print out circuit boards for people to play with.

    Sure, there are already low cost fab options out there, and people can always use breadboards, but this seems like it would let you do small one-off projects that aren't obviously built on a breadboard.

    Just print out the board (with included markings for all of the components), attach the components somehow (solder won't burn through paper, but I don't know about the ink--is it heat resistant?) and watch your project light up. It might even be easier: Print the paper out, paste it on a piece of dense foam, and poke your components through the paper, maybe with a tiny dab of electrical paste/glue on each one.

    I could see kits being sold to kids in the vein of those old Radio Shack kits that had springs to attach each wire, only this would let you build something better than a primitive two bit adder. I'm thinking about "make your own laser pointer", build a programmable remote control, build your own robot control board (with attachment points for the leads to the servo motors).

    The downside is that ink-jet cartridges are not in any way standardized, and the companies are downright hostile to third parties that try to create compatible cartridges. Convincing HP or Lexmark to make expensive (well, ok, they already like expensive) low volume cartridges is a lost cause as well.
    • Uhh... It's called a Laser printer dude.

      Toner is just carbon black with fusable binders in it. It's been possible to print and copy circuit boards for decades.

      You gotta move beyond the inkjet technology and spread your wings and fly.

      • by jandrese (485)
        I'd offer that your average home enthusiast is more likely to own an ink-jet printer than a laser printer.
    • by qortra (591818)
      Let's go a little deeper - what we really need is bendy circuit boards so our electronics can wobble. Just imagine Gummy brand cell phones: they wriggle away from you as you talk.
  • by lewp (95638) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:52PM (#26566407) Journal

    3-5 years away? Am I right?

    If only I lived 3-5 years from now...

  • I like my PC screens the way I like my women: bendy.
    • by Ringl (895323)

      I like my PC screens the way I like my women...

      Large and in color?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Richy_T (111409)

        Wider than they are tall?

        • You can stare at it all day and it won't go "WHAAT???".

          It has an "Off" switch.

          It will go to sleep if you don't use it for 30 minutes, WITHOUT moaning.

          Doesn't mind you staring at another one, hell, doesn't mind you having two or three of them sitting on your desk, ready and waiting, just for you. Doesn't mind the big one in the living room either.

          They both age at approximately the same speed? One gets yellow and its colours fade until the light dies. The screen just stops working.

          This joke has
  • from the 1001-positions-for-computing dept.
    Really..... Only 9 positions?
    • by mjwx (966435)

      from the 1001-positions-for-computing dept.
      Really..... Only 9 positions?

      Yeah, you have to get into the double figures before positions get interesting.

  • Paint the object you want to hide and point the image source (camera) at whatever is behind the object.
  • by idontneedanickname (570477) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @07:44PM (#26568041)
    This new form of N-type ink, made by dissolving a specific molecule in a certain solvent...

    Specific reporting like that is why I keep frequenting certain websites.
  • does the ink breakthrough Heralds bendy PC screens? :)
  • We're sorry, but your display's ink cartridge has expired! Please replace with Genuine (TM) HP (TM) ink for best results.

    Then how are you reading this message you say? By violating the DMCA! Please unlock your door and put on the teakettle, the stormtroopers will arrive shortly.

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