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Electronic ink: print in motion

Jul 1, 2002 12:00 AM


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Imagine a point-of-purchase (POP) display which, instead of bearing a static image, flashes moving text and pictures. And yet the display’s medium is no thicker than x-pt. board and is powered for up to a year by two AA batteries. Electronic ink, a proprietary material from E Ink Corp. (Cambridge, MA) is not actually ink but rather microcapsules containing postively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles suspended in a clear fluid. When a negative charge is applied, the white particles move to the top of the microcapsules, forming a light image. Reversing the charge draws the black particles to the top, creating a dark image.

To create an electronic ink display, the "ink" is printed onto a sheet of plastic film that is laminated to a layer of circuitry, which forms a pattern of pixels controlled by a display driver. The microcapsules are suspended in a liquid that enables them to be screen-printed onto most surfaces, including plastic, glass, fabric and paper.

E Ink’s Ink-In-Motion product, which can be used to create dynamic POP, promotional and brand-building displays, debuted at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. There, Coca-Cola used the dynamic displays at vending machines, pin-trading booths and around the Olympic grounds.

A design and evaluation kit is available for $500 at www.eink.com, and includes material to create both flashing and animated displays.