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New ITO Replacement Materials Will Likely Change The Supply Chain Landscape
Sep 06, 2018

The main problem of ITO applied to touch induction circuit is the process and its brittle characteristics. In addition, when ITO is plated in PET film, the film resistance should be considered when it is too thick, and the surface impedance cannot be reduced when it is too thin.

A variety of new generation materials are being imported into the supply chain to replace ITO as the new generation of transparent electrodes. These materials can be used in addition to displays, but also solar energy, printed circuit boards and so on.

Up to now, metal mesh and sliver nanowires are two new generation sensor wire materials mainly adopted by touchscreen manufacturers.

In addition to the optical penetration and electrical conductivity of the new generation of ITO materials beyond ITO, coating process and mechanism characteristics are also considered. Most of the replacement materials have been changed to wet coating instead of spattering process, and it is no longer a problem to cooperate with flexible or curved sensing lines and plates.

However, the replacement of one material with another is not just a matter of specification, which is the most basic requirement, but of process and supply chain maturity.

From the perspective of supply chain, the process including original materials, coating and pattern etching must be approved and imported by the touch module manufacturer. As long as the application can generate significant value in the end, even if the cost is slightly higher, the opportunity for manufacturers to accept. What's more, the cost usually declines with the quantity production, maturity, but not the absolute factor.

Most of these new materials can achieve low impedance values, so they are most valuable for applications of more than 10 inches. If you start with large sizes and go step by step to medium and small sizes, ITO targets, ITO films and spatter equipment suppliers will be the first to go.

If the material manufacturer directly integrates the plating and pattern etching process, then the touch control module manufacturer will only have the business of fitting. It is still early days, but it does foreshadow changes in future supply chains.