2012 brings major changes to the display polarizer films

August 10, 2012 — The polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) protection film industry will change significantly in 2012, with many display makers actively pursuing PVA-free and triacetate cellulose (TAC)-free designs. Display manufacturers are looking for costs savings, designs that suit tablet PCs and smartphones, and alternatives to Fuji Film, Displaybank reports.

Also read: Polarizer film trends

PVA films will grow to more than 800 million square meters (Msqm), based on area, in 2012, up from 740 Msqm in 2011. TAC film dominates the space, with 91% market share (about 750 Msqm) in 2012. COP will take 5% market share (40 Msqm), and acryl film is forecasted to have 3% of the market (240 Msqm).

By revenue, PVA protection film brought in Yen 331 billion in 2011, but will decline to Yen 326 billion this year, due to lower TN-use compensation film, the wide-view market, and competition between films. TAC film will bring in about Yen 300 billion.

Development efforts on new films are more active than ever in the history of LCD manufacturing. LCD makers are using polarizers with various combinations, looking for reduced film thickness.

Figure. Apple’s polarizer structures in different products. SOURCE: Displaybank.

Apple’s tablet PCs and smartphones have led the market with innovative structure and thickness. Companies are developing diverse films to supply polarizers to Apple, which has a big market with a single item, and technologies are rapidly moving from research to commercialization. For example, companies are using acryl film to make PVA films thinner. Acryl film has been applied as a compensation film of IPS-use polarizer, and could steal market share from conventional TAC. Processes to apply surface treatments to acryl are emerging as early as 2013, Displaybank reports.

Japan dominates the polarizer film industry. Giants of the polarizer industry, Nitto Denko, Sumitomo, and LG Chem, have their own acryl film production technology. Sumitomo Chemical and LG Chem can have higher price competitiveness than using the conventional TAC films as they secure the acryl resin production technology. 2012 will likely be the most important year for acryl’s offensive on TAC market share. TAC is clearly advantageous in production capacity, price, and know-how, Displaybank says, but acryl offers the display designs that smartphone and tablet makers want.

As these diverse technologies and films developed for mobile devices are applied to high-end TVs, future TV displays are expected to change greatly. If acryl films are used in TVs, the material will see rapid adoption from 2014.

Displaybank analyzed the polarizer film industry and various compensation films from 2010 to 2016 for the report “2012 Compensation Film and TAC/Acryl Film Analysis.” Access the report at http://www.displaybank.com/_eng/research/report_view.html?id=752&cate=4

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