Taiwan aims high with flexible substrate technology

Taiwan is getting ready to lead the world in next-generation displays due to its focus on flexible substrate technologies.

According to a report in Digitimes, the country’s government-sponsored research organizations and companies, including AU Optronics and E Ink Holding, are feeling “bullish” about these fast-developing technologies.

It seems that lab test production results have shown that Taiwan-developed flexible substrates are comparable to those from Japan and South Korea, according to the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).

The Digitimes report added that, although Taiwan has traditionally played second fiddle to South Korea in the large-size TFT LCD market, its development in electrophoretic displays (EPDs) “should enable it to gain a leading position in next-generation display markets”, with AUO and E Ink already introducing near market-ready products.

EPD is said to be the most suitable commercialized display technology to incorporate flexible plastic substrates.

Of the Taiwanese companies, AUO is reported to have partnered with ITRI on flexible plastic substrate development – with the launch of commercialized products due in 2011. And E Ink should start volume production in the same year.

Back in the summer, we reported how the market for flexible displays was forecast to see rocketing growth – and was expected to be worth $3.4 billion in 2015 and as much as $30 billion in 2020. The research, from Displaybank, found the main driver of growth would be e-books and advertising until 2011, and after that flexible displays would find an alternative use in mobile phones.

This did, however, depend on companies successfully developing display devices, backplanes, substrate, material, process technology and manufacturing equipment.

Meanwhile, LG Display revealed plans in August to start mass producing 9.7-inch colour and 19-inch flexible e-paper – the display used in e-readers on which text appears as it would on printed paper.