Non-ITO films for touch screens demand is on the rise

Touch-screen displays, which are being widely used in electronics now-a-days, predominately use indium tin oxide (ITO) film and glass technology.

However, ITO film and glass technology is going to face some serious market competition from non-ITO alternative technologies.

Analysts from IHS issued their findings in a report titled Touch-Panel-Use Transparent Conductive Film Report – 2013.

ITO currently accounts for around 95 percent of film used in touch screens. By the end of 2017 analysts predict that alternative technologies will account for slightly over one third of the film for touchscreen market (34 percent).

Alternative technologies to ITO include:

  • silver nanowire
  • copper mesh
  • silver halide
  • silver mesh
  • silver nano particles

The IHS forecast of global shipments of touch-screen films in thousands of square of meters.

Green = ITO          Blue = non-ITO

ITO versus Non-ITO

Irene Heo, senior analyst for display components and materials at IHS, said:

“The use of alternative films is being driven by demand for larger touch screens, where ITO film suffers some limitations. Until this year, touch panels were mostly employed for applications with relatively small screens, such as smartphones, tablet PCs, notebook PCs, ATMs and car navigation systems.”

She added:

“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.”

Analysts predict that shipments for non-ITO films for touch screens are going to increase by 320 percent this year.

There are two forms of ITO: film and glass. However, the film form cannot be used for screens bigger than 15 inches, whereas the glass form can.

Non-ITO film has already been applied to screens where ITO film cannot be used, i.e. it is able to compete with both ITO film and ITO glass.

In addition, non-ITO film is a more economical alternative as indium is a rare and expensive metal with limited supply.

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