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ITO dominance to face competition in coming years

Posted: 11 Nov 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IHS? indium tin oxide? touch screen? silver nanowire? copper mesh?

According to the latest report from IHS, indium tin oxide (ITO) film and glass technology that dominates the market for touch-screen display coating is set to face some serious competition in the coming years from alternative technologies. ITO has a massive lead in the market for transparent conductive coatings for touch screens, accounting for 95 per cent of film demand by area, noted the market research firm.

However, by the end of 2017, area shipment of alternative technologies such as silver nanowire, copper mesh, silver mesh, silver halide and silver nanoparticle will account for 34 per cent of the market, reducing ITO's share to 66 per cent.

"The use of alternative films is being driven by demand for larger touch screens, where ITO film suffers some limitations," said Irene Heo, senior analyst for display components and materials at IHS. "Until this year, touch panels were mostly employed for applications with relatively small screens such as smartphones, tablets, notebooks, ATMs and car navigation systems. But recently, touch user interface (UI) began to be applied to devices with larger screens such as all-in-one (AIO) PCs, electronic bulletin boards and large notebook PCs. As a result, this year has turned out to be a major milestone for market adoption of non-ITO films."

Shipments of non-ITO films for touch screens are on track to rise by a spectacular 320 per cent this year, the highest rate of annual growth in the IHS forecast.

ITO comes in two forms, film and glass. The film form of ITO carries a high resistance of 100/m2. This means it cannot be used for displays larger than 15in.

For touch-screen displays larger than 15in, ITO glass is the dominant technology. ITO glass has a resistance of about 50/m2, much lower than ITO film. A touch panel up to 20-30in can be attained using ITO glass.

Non-ITO films are competing with both ITO film and glass for different sizes. In particular, non-ITO films have been applied to devices with large screens where ITO film cannot be used.

Furthermore, indium is a rare metal that is expensive and limited in supply, so non-ITO film can be a more economical alternative.

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