Markets for ITO Film Replacements

Touch Gesture Motion 2014 was well populated with presentations on alternatives to indium tin oxide (ITO) transparent conducting films (TCF).

The ITO Replacement session kicked off with a market research overview provided by Sweta Dash of IHS entitled Battle for ITO Replacement for Transparent Conductive Material for Touch Panel. It is interesting that Dash envisions that the potential suppliers of alternative TCFs are locked in battle with each other and, of course, the traditional ITO supply base. As usual, Dash laid out a comprehensive view of the transparent conductive film outlook, the market shift from glass to film-based solutions, the movement towards single layer touch solution, the competition between transparent conductive film by major applications, ITO and ITO alternatives, as well as Alternative non-ITO films have penetrated only 11% of the TCF market for touch sensors. The non-ITO film market consists of copper mesh (25%), silver nanowire (15%), silver halide (14%) and silver mesh (46%) each with their respective shares of this 11% portion of the overall TCF market for touch sensors. Dash’s forecasts for the ITO and non-ITO film market are shown.

It’s clear from this forecast of film area that IHS foresees relatively rapid growth in share of non-ITO films through to 2017. However, Dash finds that ITO films will remain in the mix since pricing moves by Japanese firm Nitto, the ITO film supply leader, became very aggressive in the period H2 2013 through to H1 2014. Dash expects that the forecast expansion in the market share for non-ITO films will be based in large part on the use of ITO replacement films in large-size touch sensor applications. She summarized her views on the competitiveness of ITO alternatives in the radar charts.

For film sizes less than 10″ diagonal, the film thickness, flexibility and pattern visibility characteristics are the most important comparative performance parameters. However, for larger size films, sheet resistance and cost are most relevant. The market driving parameters of price and sheet resistance for ITO films are evolving rapidly, as illustrated, which has allowed ITO film providers to maintain market share.

In her final analysis, Dash concluded that alternative TCF makers “need to focus more on flexible and larger size touch” when marketing their non-ITO films. – Phil Wright