Rapid touch sensor display growth: Details on the 4 categories

April 25, 2012 — Touch sensors for displays grew to 66% to 9.6 million square meters in 2011, according to the NPD DisplaySearch Touch Sensor Manufacturing Capacity report. This includes resistive, projected capacitive, sensor-on-cover (SOC), and on-cell touch sensors. Touch sensors will continue growing, with 13.0 million square meters in 2012, and 16.4 million in 2014, says NPD DisplaySearch.

Figure. Touch sensor supply and demand. SOURCE: NPD DisplaySearch, April 2012.

By revenues, the touch panel industry grew from $4 billion in 2009 to over $13 billion in 2011. The market for touchscreen displays is strong, driven by mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs, as well as PCs and point-of-information applications.

New display and color filter manufacturers, among other companies, are grabbing up market share in this rapidly growing display sector.

With rapid growth in resistive, projected capacitive, sensor-on-cover, and on-cell touch sensors, the industry’s development is under scrutiny, including the balance of supply and demand, how quickly sensor-on-cover projected capacitive touch can take share from conventional projected capacitive, and how on-cell and in-cell touch will impact add-on type touch screens, NPD DisplaySearch reports.

“Capacity in 2010 and 2011 was slightly higher — 13% — than demand, but this level of oversupply is healthy, given the rapid pace of growth in the touch industry,” said Jennifer Colegrove, Ph.D., VP, emerging display technologies for NPD DisplaySearch. “However, the glut is expected to more than double in 2012, to 27%, causing touch sensor prices to reduce rapidly. The oversupply will also force touch suppliers to move to larger size applications to utilize capacity, such as notebook and all-in-one PCs, ATM/finance and point of information,” Dr. Colegrove noted.

Resistive touch sensors were in oversupply in 2010. In 2011, most resistive touch manufacturers dramatically reduced their capacity; some converted their lines to projected capacitive touch. In 2012, resistive touch manufacturers continue to minimize capacity, leading to a balanced supply/demand outlook. While resistive continues to be strong in applications such as automotive, education/training, and industrial, it will slowly decline.

Projected capacitive touch manufacturing has increased dramatically, from 27 companies in 2009 to over 80 companies in 2011. Many projected capacitive suppliers are also establishing sensor-on-cover fabs.

SOC is forecast to grow fivefold (by area) in 2012. Due to its light weight and thinness, SOC is likely to be adopted in tablet and notebook PCs, including form factors such as sliding and convertible devices. Many leading touch module makers increased their cover glass capacity in 2011 in preparation for SOC production. NPD DisplaySearch forecasts SOC will capture an 8.6% share in 2012.

On-cell touch sensors are mainly used in AMOLED displays. In 2013, as large AMOLED fabs enter full production, there will be a significant oversupply (52%) of on-cell.

In-cell touch has been researched and demonstrated for many years, and in 2012, mass production will begin. Sony announced it is producing 4.3” in-cell LCDs. Synaptics is producing controller ICs for in-cell touch designs. As yield rates improve and tier one smartphone brands adopt the technology in 2013-2014, in-cell will experience strong growth.

Production of transparent conductive substrates (mostly ITO) for the four types of touch covered in the report will grow from 20.8 million square meters in 2011 to 30.9 million in 2014.

The Touch Sensor Manufacturing Capacity report includes information on nearly 100 fabs, including glass substrate generation, substrate size, substrate allocation, substrate input, yield rate, and yielded touch sensor area (in square meters). Transparent conductive substrate (ITO and ITO replacements) input information is also provided, and supply and demand for each of the four types of touch sensor is analyzed. NPD DisplaySearch surveyed over 60 suppliers of projected capacitive, sensor-on-cover, on-cell, and resistive touch sensors. The Touch Sensor Manufacturing Capacity report is a companion to the NPD DisplaySearch Touch Panel Market Analysis report, which profiles over 190 touch screen suppliers and analyzes each touch technology. NPD DisplaySearch is a leading global market research and consulting firm specializing in the display supply chain, as well as the emerging photovoltaic/solar cell industries. The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. For more information on NPD DisplaySearch analysts, reports and industry events, visit http://www.displaysearch.com/.

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