German plastics specialist Rehau Group, DuPont Teijin Films and and 12 other partners will put 14 million euros ($16.3 million) into a European Union-funded project on advanced automotive lighting using organic LED technology (OLED).
The program, operating under the name Lyteus, aims to start 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.
Lyteus is focusing on products for automotive, design and aeronautics applications.
Coordinated by the Holst Centre, Lyteus has brought together partners from five European countries and includes Audi AG, the 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.
In a May 23 statement, Rehau said that its 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.
"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," explained Constanze Ranfeld, corporate research & development / advanced technologies at Rehau.
If the project is successful, the profiles could light up aircraft cabins, for example, as a design highlight.
Moreover, the advanced, film-based, flexible OLEDs could also be used for other applications, such as automotive sector.
Rehau also said that the integration of OLEDs into its products fit perfectly with the strategic direction of the company.
There are, however, commercialization obstacles, which must be overcome before the technology reaches the mass market.
Two of those are price intensity and limited availability, according to Rehau.
"OLEDs could become the lights of the future. Initially, however, technology scale up and commercial price points must be achieved," Ranfeld emphasised.