3M flexible barrier films for displays come to market

May 22, 2012 — 3M’s Optical Systems Division made its flexible, optically clear 3M FTB3-50 and FTB3-125 films available commercially, to protect sensitive electronics displays from water vapor and oxygen. The films previously were sold under limited R&D agreements.

FTB3 (for flexible, transparent, barrier) film has application in a range of emerging display technologies. FTB3 consists of a base polyester layer (50-125µm thick) with a <2.0µm barrier coating made up of layers of polymer and oxide. It is available in rolls 300mm wide, with larger widths entering the market in Q2.

New technologies incorporating organic electronics or other sensitive components need protection from water vapor and oxygen, said Art Lathrop, marketing manager for 3M Optical Systems Division.

FTB3 is thinner, lighter, more flexible and more impact resistant than glass, 3M reports, which could enable new form factors. “It offers from two to three orders of magnitude better protection from water vapor than packaging grade barrier films, said Lathrop.

The film has a water vapor transfer rate of less than 1×10-3 grams per square meter per day at 20°C. It has an Ra of about 1nm.

“Unlike metal foils, the barrier layer in FTB3 doesn’t conduct electricity,” said Dr. Fred McCormick, senior research specialist within Optical Systems. This could be of interest to display makers requiring an insulating layer.

The film’s flexibility allows roll-to-roll processing of displays.

3M is now developing a range of barrier films using different substrates, additional film layers, and even higher barrier performance for applications ranging from solar panels to electrophoretic, electrochromic, and organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays. 

3M makes a range of materials for displays. The company recently announced, with HP, the “first all-in-one zero client capable of being powered by Type 1 power-over-Ethernet (PoE, IEEE 802.3af),” using 3M’s Dual Brightness Enhancement Film for LED-backlit monitors.

3M is a diverse company creating products for consumer, electronics, and other markets. For more information, visit www.3M.com

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