Capacitive touch displays take resistive market share; new fab techniques develop

December 29, 2011 — While mobile phone applications are the main driver for capacitive touch display adoption, the 2012 release of touch-optimized Windows 8 will bring PC growth as well. A new manufacturing process, sensor-on-cover, should see rapid growth, shows NPD DisplaySearch, and other new techniques are lowering fab costs.

Also read: Diverse touchscreen technologies drive industry transition

Mobile phone adoption is bringing projected capacitive touch displays into the mainstream, according to NPD DisplaySearch’s Touch Panel Market Analysis December update. In 2011, 566 million projected capacitive touch screens will ship for mobile phone applications.  

Sensor-on-cover, also called one-glass solution or touch on lens, is fabricated with on-cover lens finishing and a new indium tin oxide (ITO) patterning process. Wintek, Cando, and others have adopted sensor-on-cover touch screens, noted Jennifer Colegrove, PhD, VP of emerging display technologies for NPD DisplaySearch. Sensor-on-cover displays boast a thinner structure and lighter weight than traditional touchsceens. The approach is expected to "grow rapidly in 2012," Colegrove said. In-cell and on-cell touch from display panel makers will challenge sensor-on-cover from touch module makers starting in 2012, so touch makers have to quickly improve their yield rates.

An additional touchscreen boost in 2012 could come from the PCs sector, including tablets, notebooks, and all-in-ones, with the release of touch-optimized Windows 8.

Touch technology opens opportunities for optical imaging and infrared touch-on-screen sizes greater than 30", serving educational markets, NPD DisplaySearch predicts. Turkey and China are plan to build multi-media teaching systems using touch technology, for example.
 
Although resistive touch has lost share to capacitive, it has found a new commercial application in automotive monitors. Because automotive design cycles are long, they limit the near-term impact of this adoption area.

Some film-based touch module makers use low-temperature (~140

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