Flexible, free shape displays are the enabling technology for new robust, lightweight, extremely thin, portable electronic devices. Polymer Light Emitting Diodes (PLED) are especially suited for these applications, due to their fast response time, low voltage, high luminous efficiency and viewing angle performance. On the other hand, PLED displays are extremely sensitive to moisture and oxygen. Substrate materials provided with high performance hermetic and conducting layers are therefore an essential component for manufacturing these flexible devices. Polymer based substrates provide the necessary mechanical flexibility; they also require several thin, brittle, functional inorganic layers such diffusion barriers and transparent electrodes. The structural integrity, dimensional stability and thermal properties of the substrate stack are crucial to insure device functionality and reliability. For polymer-based substrate several effects lead to dimensional variation of the substrates, such as solvent uptake, physical ageing of the polymer base, thermal expansion and stress induced deformations. These effects must be taken into account to successfully perform classic photolithographic steps.
Ink-jet printing is a critical enabling technology for flexible PLED displays, providing a customizable means to dispense solution-based polymers onto a flexible substrate, allowing for multi-color devices. On the other hand, IJP must meet several challenges, especially to comply with industrial applications. For example, accurate landing position of the droplets to form homogeneous hole-transport and electroluminescent layers as well as good wetting characteristic of the substrates must be obtained with reliable high throughput techniques.