A Roll of Light
Polymer specialist REHAU and 13 partners are investigating OLED lighting technology, an innovative new lighting technology, which allows for lighting to be uniform, bendable, ultrathin and transparent. REHAU’s involvement is part of the European program Lyteus, which is establishing a pilot line enabling companies of any size to develop concepts related to flexible OLED lighting technology quickly and cost-effectively and to bring products to market maturity. REHAU’s role in the consortium is to validate the pilot line as a launching customer, along with AUDI AG, Pilkington and emde design. The research activities are supported by the European Commission through the Photonics Public-Private Partnership with a total of 14 million Euro.
"In this project, REHAU is venturing into the market of printed electronics. With our know-how in the processing of polymer materials, we are trying to integrate OLED films into edgebands and profiles," explains Dr.-Ing. Constanze Ranfeld, Corporate Research & Development / Advanced Technologies at REHAU. If the project is successful, these profiles could light up in aircraft cabins, for example, as a design highlight. Moreover, the advanced, film-based and therefore flexible OLEDs could be used for numerous other application areas. The polymer specialist also sees possible applications in the automotive sector. REHAU demonstrates the new design freedom, which OLED lighting brings, in its technology carrier Smart Backend. On the rear of the vehicle, the films have been integrated into the lights in a spiral and thus created a unique optical effect. The integration of OLEDs into REHAU products fits perfectly within REHAU’s strategic direction. The company’s goal is continuous development. The polymer specialist invests in innovative technologies, in order to be able to supply high-quality and high-tech products to its customers.
There are, however, commercialization obstacles, which must be overcome before the technology reaches the mass market. Two of these are price intensity and limited availability: "OLEDs could become the lights of the future. Initially, however, technology scale up and commercial price points must be achieved," Ranfeld emphasizes. Lyteus is helping companies such as REHAU to bridge this gap. Integration into windows would also be conceivable. "Panes of glass that are transparent in the daytime and light up the room in the evening are visions for the future, though," the developer explains.
Lyteus offers world-class capabilities and services in the pilot production of customized flexible OLEDs and is focusing on product streams in the areas of automotive, designer luminaires and aeronautics applications. Coordinated by the Holst Centre, Lyteus brings together fourteen expert partners from five European countries and includes AUDI AG, Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), VTT, Fraunhofer, M-Solv, FlexEnable, DuPont Teijin Films, Brabant Development Agency (BOM), REHAU, emde design, Pilkington, Coatema Coating Machinery and AMIRES. Lyteus is an initiative of the Photonics Public Private Partnership co-founded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No 688093 (project PI-SCALE) with a contribution of €14 million.