E-ink Now Working on a 300′ Screen

click to enlarge

Okay, this is technically not a screen, but the photo is cool none the less.

I got this photo from E-ink this morning. They wanted to demonstrate a few details about how the screen material is made, so they  unrolled a few hundred feet of it, dangled it off a crane, and took this picture. One end is attached to the end of a crane that’s 30′ up int the air. The photo was taken in the basket, and that’s why the image looks a little odd.

Trust me, you really want to click on the image and see it full size. It’s impressive.

Let me tell you something about how this material is used. It’s a rather interesting process.

E-ink has a factory in MA where they make make the source material for their screen. It comes off the assembly line as a single plastic sheet that measures several feet wide and up to a mile long. The sheet is then rolled into a cylinder (much like paper products) and shipped to Asia.

click to enlarge

The factories in Asia unroll the plastic sheeting, cut out the standard screen sizes (5″, 6″, 9.7″), and then mount this material on backplanes.

The sheeting at right is the same material as the screen that you can see on your Kindle. But what you cannot see on your Kindle is the backplane, and the backplane is actually what makes the screen turn from black to white and so on.

You can think of a backplane as a glass plate of tiny magnetic switches.  They’re laid out in a grid (much like pixels on a screen). When a switch changes from positive to negative, it changes what you can see on the screen by attracting one color and repelling the other. The color you see is the one that is being repelled by the backplane. It’s more complicated than that, and I didn’t really explain how the grayscale works, but it’s an adequate mental image for now.

I’m sure you know that the iriver Story HD has a higher resolution E-ink screen than on any other ereader. The screen has a higher resolution not because it came from a better sheet of plastic but because of the backplane. The Story HD uses a backplane that can squeeze in more pixels than can be found on the Kindle.

You might also know that the 5″ E-ink screen has the same resolution as the 6″ screen (600×800).  Again, that’s not becuase of the screen material, but is a result of a backplane that can pack the pixels in tighter.

Did you click on the pictures? Pretty cool, huh?

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Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Jon Jermey13 October, 2011

    Now make it say ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” in scrolling letters..

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  3. Andrys15 October, 2011

    That was interesting, Nate. Also, the oversaturation of colors on the photo made the e-Ink bluish 🙂 But sending rolls of e-ink sheet of that to Asia where it is cut up, that I didn’t know, and the photo of the ribbon-like sheet was definitely something to see.

  4. […] 6″ E-ink screen.In the past I’ve told you about how most E-ink screens are based on a glass backplane. (If you’ve ever seen an E-ink screen after someone hit it, the shatter pattern is the broken […]

  5. […] s1.parentNode.insertBefore(s, s1); })();EmailA few months back I posted a couple photos that showed some details about how an E-ink screen is made. Today I found a behind the scenes video […]

  6. […] used in a Triton E-ink screen, only Plastic Logic came up with their own backplane to mount it on. (Here’s what the E-ink material looks like before it is […]


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