Two recent announcements from LG Group and TPK point to the continuing growth outlook for capacitive touch technology integrated with cover glass solutions for mobile devices. LG Group’s three major affiliates, LG Display, LG Innotek and LG Electronics, jointly announced in late February that they are making investments to establish a new “G2” touch panel production plan in Gumi in South Korea. This news was closely followed by TPK Holding and a subsidiary Cando which announced a new facility under construction in Taiwan to produce chemically strengthened glass. The new facility is expected to begin production during the third quarter of 2013, and will join a list of competitors for such hardened cover glass solutions for touch panels, including Corning, Asahi Glass, Schott and Nippon Electric Glass (NEG).
Apple’s original iPhone led the market in adopting strengthened cover glass solutions, adopting what is now branded as Corning’s “Gorilla Glass”, for use with capacitive touch panels which have subsequently seen rapid market adoption by many other brands and in other markets. The supply chain for touch panel components is quite fractured between suppliers of various sensor films, optically clear adhesives, cover glass solutions, LCD and AMOLED displays and of course also the microcontrollers that form the brain for the integrated touch module. Some panel manufacturers are moving to integrate some of the touch sensor functions inside the LCD panel, yet cover glass material will remain a key need for these products. Various technology advances are being made in both touch sensor material, module stack up and integration with the display panel in order to reduce the overall module thickness, thus allowing for lighter, thinner, sleeker smartphones and tablets. The adoption of “G1” and “G2” designs, basically touch panel architectures that deposit ITO sensor material directly onto the cover glass, will see strong adoption over the next few years.
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