German Researchers Create Paper Speakers and Electricity That Grows On Trees

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

At a recent print media technology conference in Düsseldorf, the Institute for Print and Media Technology of Chemnitz University of Technology (pmTUC) showed off their latest research results which included speakers made of paper and a printed solar tree.  Just when we thought paper had outgrown its usefulness, these researchers have found a way to make it relevant again.

The speakers are made from standard paper that has been printed with flexography (a method of printing that uses a mix plastic plates and fluid inks) and are connected to an amplifier just like your traditional speaker.  Dr. Georg Schmidt, senior researcher at pmTUC, commented that “frequency response and hence sound quality are very good and the paper is surprisingly loud. Just the bass of the paper-based loudspeaker is a bit weak.”  Surprisingly, the cost to produce these paper speakers is relatively cheap and can also be offset with advertising placed on the unused backside of the paper.

Advertising may be a little better suited for pmTUC’s printed solar tree innovation that was also shown off in Düsseldorf.  The solar tree is designed to look like a tree that contains 50 printed leaves that have solar cells printed on them.  A battery is then placed inside the tree’s trunk which receives a charge from the leaves.  Prof. Dr. Arved Hübler from pmTUC sees this tree as a great advertising opportunity by stating that “if you stand below the tree and look up to the shade-giving leaves of the solar tree, you can see that the bottom side of the leaves is printed with advertisements.  As soon as the customer realises that it is better to not throw advertising that contains a solar cell away, but rather keep it to generate electricity for some time, the printed solar cell will become an unbeatable advertising carrier with a sustainable image”

Consumers may not be as open to traditional trees being replaced by advertising supported solar trees in their city as pmTUC researchers believe them to be, but the concept is still very interesting and innovative.  It goes to show that the quickly dying print industry has a potential lifeline in the near future.


Source: Chemnitz University of Technology
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Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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