ITO film market undergoing a sea of changes

The employment of touch panels on mobile phones has paved the way for easy access to various operations. Moreover, there are increased demands for more specifications with the mobility, notably for outdoor readability. Touch panel makers are seeking ways to catch both greater specifications and lower cost at the same time, amid rapidly falling touch panel prices. Thus, the capacitive touch panel structure is undergoing the sea of changes.

Capacitive touch panels could be largely divided into the GG method (cover glass + ITO glass sensor), mostly used by Apple, and the GFF type (cover glass + two ITO film sensors). However, recent developments have introduced new structures that are more efficient in production and cost; ones with superior optical traits; and some with favorable weight/thickness.

Regardless of the type, the cover glass and touch sensor have a high cost ratio for all structures. As for 10.1-inch tablet PCs, the cover glass takes up 35% and the touch sensor around 30~32% for both GG and GFF types, which is why all the attention is being put on touch sensors.

Cost Ratio of Touch Materials by Structure

display market analysis

(Source: Displaybank, “Touch Panel-use ITO Film/ITO Glass 2013”)

With the rapid growth of the tablet PC market, the ITO film market has seen a staggering growth in demand with more manufacturers, which once insisted on glass sensors, switching over to film. The ITO film industry is even faced with supply shortages because it was late in responding to the exploding demand.

Meanwhile, some laptop models and all-in-one PCs have been employing touch panels with the launch of Windows 8. Since it is still in its initial stages, the touch panels are only employed on some of the high-end ultrabook models. But touch functions are expected to be increasingly applied on mid-end products. Considering that touch panels applied on mid-end products need to be cost efficient, GFF or GG types are most likely to be employed rather than the current G2. However, since there is an absolute shortage of large-sized glass sensor lines, and because mobile devices have to be light, GFF types have a higher chance of employment over the GG, which is why demands for ITO film is expected to grow. But along with such movements, large supplies of ITO film are forecasted for next year, suggesting a quick fall in ITO film sensor prices.

Against this backdrop, Displaybank analyzed and forecasted the ITO film/ITO glass market, technologies, and industry. The report forecasts the market by continuously observing and assessing the following issues:

ITO Sensor Market Forecast
Market forecast based on future touch panel strategies; cost simulations; possible supply capacity; and surrounding infrastructure of the major models, such as the iPad, the iPhone, the Galaxy Note, and the Galaxy.

Film Sensor
Considered enhanced outdoor readability through narrow bezel, use of sunglass film, and increased direct bonding; greater demands for fine patterning as a result of enhanced readability; the problem of resistance which is an obstacle to upsizing; and trends surrounding replacements.

Glass sensor
Considered the employment of thin-film glass; and how to maintain the side solidity to expand the sheet G2 market


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