Different groups from the lighting business have been dreaming of truly flexible light sources for a long time. OLEDs are being promoted as the solution of the future but there are other solutions already on the market. Managing Director R&D at Carpetlight GmbH, Mr. Till Sadlowski, takes a look at the common history of light and fabrics, the evolution of flexible circuity and the latest development in form free scalable light sources.
Fibers and fabrics are an essential part of our technological history. The treatment of fibers into threads, simple skills as braiding or twisting reach back to the Stone Age. Even the more sophisticated technology of weaving dates back 32,000 years - only surpassed by the treatment of wood and stone.
Our relation to textiles and fabrics started with the selection of natural fibers offering numerous possibilities for protection, shelter and comfort. The features of a lightweight, reusable flexible material to be manipulated by a simple technique such as sewing allowed a universal use. Next to clothing, structures like tarpaulins, tents and yurts where home to early mankind. Evolving with them, the progress in textile manufacturing and the use of artificial fibers today allows custom made solutions in all kinds of applications. In this context, it is interesting to note that even early artificial lighting depended on a small piece of fabric to light up: the wick of a candle or lantern as the first controllable sources of light followed by the gas mantle and finally a carbon filament inside the first light bulb.