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Ink Breakthrough Heralds Bendy PC Screens 140

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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  • 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 @05:38PM (#26566203)

    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 jandrese ( 485 ) <> 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.
  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <> 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:Holy crap! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT 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 [], not typically used for batteries, alas)

  • Re:Devolution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <> 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 ProudWhiteTrash ( 1365921 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:01PM (#26566537)
    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 $$$$$.
  • by Urza9814 ( 883915 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @06:40PM (#26567171)

    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 inkjet around for if I need color...though I can't remember the last time I used it...but it's actually cheaper to buy a laser printer and throw it out whenever you run out of ink than it is to buy ink for an inkjet. Plus my laser has _much_ better linux compatibility (plugged it in and it worked...the inkjet I've never gotten to work) and it's a lot more durable.

  • 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.

  • Re:Holy crap! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheThiefMaster ( 992038 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @07:27AM (#26572649)

    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?

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller