12. September 2016

How printed images learned to swim

The startup Inuru brings paper to life

Patrick Barkowski and Marcin Ratajczak of start-up Inuru
The startup Inuru brings paper to life by printing it with light and animations on simple displays – a self sufficient, environmentally friendly, and low cost solution. This story of success began in a sushi bar. While poring over the menu, Patrick Barkowski and Marcin Ratajczak pondered all the things they could do with printed Asian characters and logograms. “Suddenly, we pictured the little fishes depicted on the menu starting to swim. And then we thought that this could really be done,” recounted founder and physicist Patrick Barkowski. The business knowhow needed came in the person of Marcin Ratajczak, who as a student had already gained entrepreneurial experience. Fascinated by the OLED (organic light emitting diode) technology, they launched their project idea in 2012, in 2016 bothfounded the INURU GmbH. Using OLED technology, they print animations on paper, making possible, for instance, moving pictures in a printed magazine. “We didn’t just want in printed advertising, but an actual integration of OLEDs in everyday routines. Every magazine, every item of packaging can be enriched withelectronics,” explained Barkowski, who had specialised in organic electronics even before graduating from university. Together with their industrial partner OSRAM GmbH, they are a member of the innovation network INAM in order to evaluate potentials for cost-saving. “We are endeavouring to reduce costs sustainably by evaluating automation of process components,” said Thomas Waldmann, Energy Management Director at the Berlin Spandau site of OSRAM GmbH. The idea behind the OLED, a light-emitting, thin-film component of organic semiconducting materials, is not a new one. Initial research was conducted as early as the 1960s. Compared with inorganic LEDs, OLEDs offered advantages that were recognised early on: high contrast, no backlight, low power consumption. The drawback, however, was the short service life. Inuru OLEDs are to emit light up to ten weeks and have a shelf life in excess of more than one year. By setting up their company in the Adlershof Technology Park, the two founders today enjoy the best knowledge sharing contacts with companies, science, and research. “What we have developed is a process that can be transferred to conventional presses,” emphasised Barkowski. Customers need only know what they want to light up, and Inuru configures the printing parameters which then can be applied at any print shop. This secret has revealed itself to the two founders, who, of course, keep it closely to themselves. By Jennifer Giwi for Adlershof Special