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Optical display films undergo cyclical changes


05/01/2012







Optical display film revenues are declining in 2012, after a compound annual growth rate of 19% from 2009 to 2011, according to NPD DisplaySearch Q1'12 Quarterly Display Optical Film Report. Optical films are used in liquid crystal display (LCD) backlights. Revenues will decline from $4.5 billion in 2011 to $4.2 billion in 2012, due to a decline in the market for reflective polarizers. Prism and micro lens film markets will grow to $858 million and $331 million in revenue, respectively.





Figure 1. Revenues for display optical film types for TFT LCD applications.



Reflective polarizers commanded a high price prior to 2009, due to a proprietary manufacturing technology. Panel makers have reduced backlight costs in recent years, at the expense of energy efficiency, by replacing reflective polarizers with diffusers and micro lens films.


As LED backlight technology evolved, panel makers trended toward fewer LEDs per panel, adding reflective polarizers to compensate for the lost performance, noted Jimmy Kim, senior analyst, NPD DisplaySearch. The trend will reverse again in 2012. LED prices have fallen so sharply during the past few years, with a CAGR of -50%, that it now seems beneficial for panel makers to use more LEDs rather than expensive reflective polarizers. Panel makers will remove reflective polarizers and compensate for the luminance loss by applying more 2-chip LED packages. Prism and micro lens film will be used as more cost-effective designs.





Figure 2. Changes in revenue of prism and reflective polarizer for TFT LCD applications.



The NPD DisplaySearch Q4'11 Quarterly Display Optical Film Report suggests that prism revenue is expected to decrease again in 2014. In contrast, reflective polarizer revenue is expected to grow at the same time.


Changes in this trend seem to be related to the LED bar structure. With the evolution of the LED bar structure, there will continue to be a reduction in LEDs per set. However, there is discontinuity in the number of LEDs per set among different LED bar structures. When the LED structure is changed from a 2-bar (bottom or side) structure to a side 1-bar structure or a corner LED structure, there is a large change in the number of LEDs per set. For these structures, reflective polarizers may be required again to compensate for luminance loss.???M.C.


Solid State Technology, Volume 55, Issue 4, May 2012


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