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Greg Cholmondeley

Printing Batteries on Paper with an Inkjet Printer

How could you make money with powered print?

Oct 21, 2022 12:22:28 PM


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Here’s something out of left field, but I invite you to put on your creative thinking caps for where this new “technology” could lead. I recently read about how a group of scientists created a disposable battery printed on paper using just three inks. Yeah, that’s right—soon it might be possible to print a functional, disposable battery on a sheet of paper using a standard inkjet digital press.



Two drops of water activate these single-use batteries in less than 20 seconds and, while the batteries aren’t powerful, they can be chained together to increase their performance. As I understand the article, the scientists achieved 150µW of power at 0.5mA current with a 1cm2 printed battery. They even stated a constant 100 μA current for an hour!


These researchers connected their ink and paper battery to a liquid crystal display (LCD) alarm clock, but I’m more interested in combining this with research on printing interactive displays on paper. I’m reminded of a project from way back in 2014 where students and staff at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo printed an interactive magazine cover.

So, we’re heading for a time where printers can produce biodegradable, interactive printed products…including the power source! What new types of profitable applications can you think of using water-activated, disposable batteries and circuits that can be printed on paper using digital presses? Smart labels? Single-use security documents? True, interactive direct marketing? Does this let postcards become part of the Internet of Things (IoT) universe?


Yet people whine about print being dead. I say that they just aren’t thinking out of the box. Which brings up another thought: How could we use powered print in packaging?...


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