The world of printable electronics just keeps getting better. Several weeks ago it was the plastic solar cell and now this. Researchers at the Institute for Print and Media Technology of Chemnitz University of Technology (pmTUC) in Dusseldorf, created loudspeakers they printed on standard paper.
According to a press release, the printed thin paper loudspeaker was made by printing several layers of a conductive organic polymer and a piezoactive layer which is an active element of most acoustic transducers onto a piece of paper. A cable is used to run music from a computer or MP3 player which causes the layers to vibrate against each other and push out sound. The printable loudspeakers can pump out sound up to 80 decibels which is about the same as a ringing telephone or alarm clock.
Researchers say the speakers are surprisingly robust and can be produced at a low cost because of the mass printing possibilities of polymers.
How good is the sound?
“Frequency response and sound quality are very good and the paper is surprisingly loud,” says Dr. Georg Schmidt, senior researcher at pmTUC. “Just the bass of the paper-based loudspeaker is a bit weak.”
Ok, so no thumping bass, but these researchers are thinking ahead. Printable electronics is expected to generate around $13 billion by 2016. In fact, a market research report says this printable electronics will see a compound annual growth rate of 29.4% over the next five years. And, even though it’s just a prototype, this printable loudspeaker creates a possibility for new applications.
The paper loudspeaker is highly flexible and oddly, the more you bend the paper, the better the sound is. This opens the door to new types of intelligent packaging which could be a new market niche for advertisers.
According to researchers, the paper loudspeakers could also be integrated into common printed products, packaging, containers which could have market potential for the advertising industry. And, because of its flexibility, printing enables different formats and forms so it’s possible to have printed sound wallpaper bringing new meaning to walls with ears.