It is widely assumed that the display technology mini-LED will gradually replace traditional LCD-based displays, which have a market share above 90 percent today. A key component in these new displays are thin and advanced light spreaders, called diffusers, and these require advanced double-sided patterns with high replication. These high requirements makes TC TECH´s system, TCP 150, uniquely suited for supplying diffusers for the next generation of displays.
TC TECH’s previous main focus was to reach out with its technology and production system to large-scale manufacturers of light guide plates (LGPs) for traditional LCD-based displays. However, this market segment has shown significant inertia as manufacturers are reluctant to conduct major investments in what is considered to be today’s rather than tomorrow’s display technology.
The focus on diffusers for mini-LED displays is a part of TC TECH’s broadening to new application areas within optical films. This segment is characterized by a strong outlook and an increasing need for new investments in the coming years.
“Our focus on reaching out to potential customers who manufacture advanced diffusers for mini- and micro-LED displays enables us to be involved from the beginning when the global production capacity for the next generation of display technologies is being built up. In addition to having a very promising technology platform for this type of applications, the manufacturers are clearly not as committed to existing elaborate manufacturing processes and production systems compared to the traditional LCD display industry. No one has yet established a manufacturing process for mass production that satisfies the market’s requirements for high quality combined with competitive pricing,” says TC TECH’s CEO Alexander Luiga.
High brightness and high contrast ratio a winning combination
The main advantage of mini-LED displays is that these technologies consist of many more and smaller light sources that can be controlled individually compared to traditional LCD-based displays. This makes it possible to achieve a really high contrast ratio, which is of great importance as HDR formats, with requirements for both high brightness and high contrast ratio, are becoming a standard in both the film and TV series industry as well as in professional application areas.
Another reason behind the transition from traditional LCD displays to mini-LED illuminated LCD displays is that the competing OLED display technology has some limitations. Even though OLED displays offer relatively high brightness and a high contrast ratio, this technology is costly to use in relative terms. It also has a limited lifespan as it consists of organic materials. This has led major manufacturers of consumer products to start seeing mini-LED as a more promising way forward.
In order to diffuse the light from each small light source in a mini-LED display in an optimal way without light leakage, an advanced film called a diffuser is required, and it is the production of these films that TC TECH’s production system is ideally suited for. If the diffuser that is used is not good enough, this will be revealed without mercy as the brightness increases.
“By using our production system, customers can create the most advanced and accurate diffusers in the market, and manufacture them at scale with our industrially proven production system. This is something that more and more potential customers are beginning to understand, which is why I am optimistic about our potential in this segment”, says Alexander.
Launch of new products and massive investments in new production capacity
Mini-LED based TVs from companies including Chinese TCL are already being sold to consumers, while both LG and Samsung have either presented upcoming models or the intention to start selling mini-LED based TVs. TCL has also confirmed that their mini-LED TV has as many as 25,000 mini-LED light sources that are grouped in approximately 1,000 individually controllable zones. There is great potential to increase the number of zones (theoretically, each mini-LED could be controlled separately), and with a transition to micro-LED technology, the number of light sources increases even further.
Apple is also investing heavily in mini-LED. The company is expected to invest 340 million USD in a new mini- and micro-LED production facility together with Taiwanese Epistar.
“We follow the development in this segment closely, and we will scale up our market efforts on-site in both Asia and the US at the pace allowed by the current travel restrictions”, says Alexander Luiga.