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Capacitive touch panel makers expanding yield

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SAW touch panel

China's output is forecast to exceed 50 percent in coming years.

Tablet PCs, mobile phones and 3D TVs drive production of capacitive touch panels in China.

The widening adoption of capacitive touch panels in tablet PCs, mobile phones and 3D TVs is encouraging China manufacturers to boost output of the display component. Annual sales of these devices will surge by more than 50 percent in coming years, with shipment of smartphones featuring touchscreens hitting 400 million units in 2012, according to Gartner.

In the past years, capacitive variants were typically used in upscale products as they are more expensive than resistive kinds. The former boast better sensitivity and clarity and longer operating life. Greater resistance to shock and explosion is also an attribute.

The popularity of the iPad and iPhone has expanded the capacitive line’s user base and lowered manufacture costs, enabling the component to penetrate the midrange.

In anticipation of a jump in orders, many businesses in China have started to raise capacitive touch panel output. For example, Shenzhen Laibao High-Tech Co. Ltd has invested $36 million in the manufacture of medium and large units targeted at tablet PCs. Scheduled to begin mass production in 4Q11, the project will raise the maker’s annual capacity to 8 million units from the current 4 million. This in turn will position Shenzhen Laibao as China’s largest capacitive touch panel supplier by 2012. In 2010, the enterprise posted $168 million in total revenue, an 81 percent surge from 2009.

Wuhu Token Sciences Co. Ltd, another key player in the category, will increase turnout of small varieties to 20 million units under a $49 million venture slated for 2012. It will also earmark $28 million to produce 5 million medium and large units.

With these expansion projects under way, China’s output is forecast to exceed 50 percent in coming years.

Suppliers are also making progress in the manufacture of ITO glass, a key component in capacitive touch panels. Many are now capable of conducting vacuum coating technology, bringing down production outlay. To achieve high cost-performance ratio and control quality, Wuhu Token will raise annual capacity of TN-ITO types to 20 million units and STN-ITO kinds to 15 million. It also plans to hike volume for TP-ITO variants to 3.2 million units from 2 million. At present, the company accounts for 20 percent of the local ITO glass yield.

Related reports:
OLED displays: Makers shift focus to AMOLED backplane drive
Laptop panels: High-generation LCD panel projects under way

Note: All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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