DNP Initiates Dedicated Production Line for Mass Production of High-Performance Electrode Film used in Capacitive Touch Panels

Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP), in October 2014, launched a dedicated production line for the mass production of high-performance electrode film used in capacitive touch panels, for small and medium displays, such as those in laptop computers.

In a follow-up to these operations, early 2015 will see the completion of a supply system compatible with the mass production of electrode film for displays with a maximum size of 85 inches, targeting large-scale products that are the focus of increased demand in areas such as digital signage and electronic blackboards.

And in an industry leading move, DNP has also completed a supply system for products with a fine mesh line width of 2 micrometer that are seeing strong market needs from the standpoint of visibility. Looking ahead, the Company will provide a variety of electrode film for touch panels with superior visibility, for uses from displays to such new uses as wearable devices.

[Background to Mass production Launch]

Apart from being integrated into smart phones and tablet terminals, touch panels for uses such as laptop computers, monitor screens, digital signage and electronic blackboards, are also undergoing progressive up-scaling. At the other end of the spectrum, we are also seeing growing expectations for expanded touch panel use in new markets with demands for smaller, thinner, lighter-weight products, or those with greater flexibility, such as wearable devices. To date, electrode film for touch panels has tended to use Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) as a conductor. But, this has presented a challenge due to the fact that resistance values cannot be lowered, and that ITO has weak bending characteristics. Mesh form electrode film using such low resistance value metals as silver and aluminum as conductors does exist, but with such conductors there is the issue of metal reflection lowering visibility.

In order to overcome these challenges, DNP has started up a dedicated line to produce copper mesh type electrode film for touch panels, which have been the target of existing development efforts, facilitating mass-production of high-performance electrode film for capacitive touch panels that are expected to see expanded uses.

[Product Summary]  

The product to be mass produced, is an electrode film for bendable capacitive touch panels with a mesh sensor, formed via etching processing of copper-coated PET film. The Company has invested 1.1 billion yen in a dedicated line for small and medium displays, and launched mass-production in October 2014. At present, the new line is compatible with sizes up to 40 inches, but will be made compatible with large screen sizes of 85 inches from early 2015. Sheet resistance of less than 0.02 ohms per square (unit area resistance) is extremely low, and good operability has been realized. And with the newly developed 2 micrometer product it is also possible to ensure high level visibility not possible to date.

[Mass-Produced Product Features]

  • Lower production costs

Film sensors using ITO require two manufacturing processes to configure the metal-based peripheral extraction wiring. With the copper mesh format, however, it is possible to perform cooper-based batch formation that includes the extraction wiring. As a result, productivity has been improved, and it has been possible to achieve cost reductions of approximately 60% compared to ITO type sensors.

  • Compatible with various film sensors

As a film sensor, this newly developed product is compatible not only with general GFF types (comprising a cover glass and two layers of one-side electrode configured film), but also GF2 types (a cover glass with a single two-side electrode configured film) and GF1 types (a cover glass and a single one-side electrode configured film). As both GF2 and GF1 electrode film are single layer, they can contribute to the thinning of the touch panel. Also, with GF2, the configured X electrodes, and Y electrode patterns can be positioned on the front and rear of the film in a highly precise manner, and as a result, Moiré fringes are not generated. The GF1 type, where X electrodes and Y electrode patterns are configured on a single side, make it compatible with medium-sized uses where adoption has typically been difficult due to the high resistance of the ITO type. It is also planned to make this new product compatible with GFF types of up to 85 inches with the introduction of the line targeting large scale equipment planned for early 2015.

  • Compatible with flexible displays and a variety of other needs

Unlike hard ITO conductor materials, cracking and scratching are less likely to occur, and as the new product also is resilient in the face of bending, it is suitable for wearable devices that demand flexible performance. It is also possible to offer the new product in a variety of formats that match client needs, including rolls, sheets and chips.

And by combining the new product with other optical components handled by DNP, such as color filters, anti-reflective film and glass, it is also possible to improve the performance of the newly developed product.

  • Achieves sheet resistance of less than 0.02 ohms per square, improved operability and large screens

It is possible to lower sheet resistance to less than 0.02 ohms per square. As this is an extremely low value compared to electrode film used with ITO and other metals, apart from good responsiveness with pen inputs, results in superior operability, facilitating compatibility with large screens. Also, by reducing the wiring with the sensor electrode, it is possible to narrow the bezel, contributing to improved design features.

[Line Width 2 micrometer Product Features]

As a result of the mesh pattern technology, and the deposition and etching technologies developed over many years by DNP, it has been possible to configure a 2 micrometer electrode, the thinnest line width in the world for copper mesh. Also, by treating the copper surface with black oxide, it has been possible to reduce the light reflection rate of the film to less than 25%. There are also no problems with electrode patterns when integrating them with equipment used in close proximity to the eyes, such as tablet terminals, as the electrode film has superior visibility.

[Looking Ahead]

Apart from marketing the high performance electrode film for capacitance type touch panels to tablet terminals, DNP will also provide the new product for uses including small and medium displays, such as laptop computers, and for large scale equipment, such as digital signage, electronic blackboards, and amusements. The Company will also market the electrode film for a variety of new uses, including wearable devices which are seeing strong market needs, and aims for sales of 6 billion yen in FY 2015.

 

* Product prices, specification and service contents mentioned in this news release are current as of the date of publication. They may be changed at any time without notice.