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Q2 demand growth seen in backlight optical film

Posted: 10 Jul 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:backlight optical film? TFT LCD? display?

Demand for large-area TFT LCD backlight optical film in Q2 09 grew by more than 22 percent quarter-on-quarter to 56 million square meters from 45.9 million square meters in Q1 09, according to DisplaySearch's latest Quarterly Display Optical Film Report.

The growth was driven by expansion of LCD TV area, and the recovery of production of notebook PC and monitor panels. Due to growing interest in green LCD TV panels, new designs have reduced the number of lamps in the backlight unit by adding brightness improvement films. Looking forward to Q3 09, the market is expected to grow by 11 percent quarter-on-quarter, creating a business opportunity for film makers who can provide improved technology.

In DisplaySearch's definition, backlight optical films are films or sheets in TFT LCD backlight units that improve luminance efficiency, recycle luminance in the backlight system or diffuse brightness for uniformity. There are five main types of films, each with its own market dynamics. The table shows the demand forecast for those five types of the backlight film.

Table: Demand forecast for LCD backlight optical films (millions of square meters). Click to view full image

? Normal prism sheet!Prism sheet is a micro-replicated prism-structure film used in LCD backlight units to enhance luminance by directing light from the light source (CCFL or LED). The most common prism sheet is 3M's brightness enhancement film (BEF).

? Multifunctional prism sheet!Multi-functional prism sheet is an advanced film that combines the prism and diffuser functions by using beads, doping or surface micro-lens structures to direct the light with higher efficiency than normal prism sheet.

? Micro-lens film!Micro-lens film combines diffuser and prism functions in one film by using a micro-lens array structure. Many LCD TV panel makers replace conventional prism sheets with micro-lens films.

? Reflective polarizer (DBEF)!Reflective polarizer or dual brightness enhancement film (DBEF) is a 3M proprietary technology that reflects light that is not properly polarized back into the backlight unit. After reflection inside the backlight, the light may be properly polarized and thus passed through the film. A reflective polarizer can increase brightness by more than 30 percent and is the most efficient among the alternative film solutions.

? Diffuser film!This film diffuses the light inside the backlight system for the better brightness uniformity. The new trend is to transform it to a gain diffuser, which can increase the brightness.

The prism sheet market is very fragmented. LG Electronics is the leader with 17.9 percent share, followed closely by 3M with 17.6 percent, and then MNTech with 16.4 percent. The figure shows the large area (10-inch plus) TFT LCD backlight prism sheet market share by shipment area in Q1 09.

Figure 1: Shown is Q1 09 large area LCD backlight prism sheet films share by area.

"Films that improve the brightness of the backlight and the LCD module are very important for cost reduction and green panel design," noted Brian Chen, DisplaySearch TFT LCD & materials research director and the author of the Quarterly Display Optical Film Report. "However, while the area demand is growing, there is also cost pressure in the optical film market that affects the revenues of the suppliers. This trend is likely to continue for the next few years, continuing to make technical improvements to reduce production and materials cost is the most critical focus for the backlight optical film suppliers."

He added, "We observed the trend towards green panels, especially in LCD TVs, has raised the demand for reflective polarizer (DBEF) and the supply is increasingly tight."

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