Smithers Rapra’s latest market report ‘The Future of Conductive Plastics to 2022’ identifies that the market is currently dominated by Asia-Pacific due to the region’s central position in electronics manufacturing – this is not expected to change. Although Japanese companies are expected to maintain a large market share, growth in this country is expected to be at 6%, in contrast to the rapid growth from South Korean manufacturers investing in new and expanded capacity. China is also set to be a prime producer, both from an existing capacity of indium tin oxide (ITO) and from the incorporation of new technologies.
The largest area of interest will be in the types of conductive coatings used along with the types of manufacturing that will use them. ITO, a mainstay in touch screens, is expected to maintain a large proportion of the industry; however, its performance will limit it to smaller applications and, coupled with its high manufacturing costs and brittleness, will limit its long-term future.
Although Apple is a major player, it is as a consumer of transparent conductive film, being supplied by companies such as Nitto, General Interface Solution and TPK Holding. Indeed, it shown by patent activity and research to be trailing in the flexible OLED and ITO alternative space, having even requested silver nanowire technology from LG Display, Samsung Display and Japan Display. Like Sony or Panasonic, however, it represents yet another aspect to the market, that of horizontal versus vertical integration, a trend both Samsung and LG are also pursuing actively.
Smartphone applications that consume the largest area of transparent conductive film have already begun to see a slowdown in growth, with the double digit projections from a few years ago not coming to fruition. With large-scale applications – such as large screen displays and photovoltaics beginning to incorporate more polymer film-based substrates over glass – the market is expected to recapture much of the loss experienced from declining smartphone demand. It is also expected that prices for alternative materials will begin to fall, with conductive materials, such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and silver nanowires, consuming a greater portion of the market, due to their increased performance and lower costs.
Although demand for ITO is not forecasted to go disappear anytime soon, the demand for large touch panel systems along with flexible devices will mean that companies – such as Nitto Denko of Japan, which appears not to have invested heavily in ITO alternatives – will lose market share, especially for large-area devices.
Notes for Editors
‘The Future of Conductive Plastics to 2022’ [http://www.smithersrapra.com/market-reports/plastics-industry-market-reports/the-future-of-conductive-plastics-to-2022] is available for £4,500.
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