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At IDTechEx we have been closely following and analysing the transparent conductive film market for the past five years. To this end, we interviewed or visited more than 40 innovators, suppliers and end users, organised several conferences around the world, developed a detailed and constantly updated forecast datasheet, and advised our clients globally either through consulting or reports. Our market research report on transparent conductive films is the product of our efforts.
Transparent conductive films serve a variety of markets. They are used in touch screen displays, OLED lighting, OPVs, DSSCs, smart windows, reflective displays, etc. Note that glass-based solutions are used in the display market.
The incumbent technology (ITO on PET) currently dominates the market, controlling in excess of 95% market share. This technology has an established value chain. ITO-on-PET technology however has several performance limits: (1) its sheet resistance is typically between 100-300 ohm/sqr, (2) it can sustain a small fixed curvature, and (3) its manufacturing is subtractive.
The application space is changing but much slower than previously anticipated by many. The incumbent solution is good enough for most existing applications, but emerging sectors may push it to or beyond its performance limit. These applications include large-sized touch screens, OLED lighting, OPVs, DSSCs, smart windows, etc.
A common emerging requirement is low sheet resistance (<50 ohm/sqr) to, for example, maintain the current levels of response time and power consumption at larger touch screen sizes, or to increase efficiency of lighting modules. Another trend is the drive towards robustness in the short term and flexibility in the long term. Both these trends push ITO-on-PET outside of its comfort zone, creating a pull for the development of alternatives.
The go-to-market strategy for alternatives is substituting an incumbent. Therefore, the claimed value proposition has been centred on a more-for-less strategy, meaning that a higher performance is offered at a lower price. This strategy makes more sense for some alternatives more than others.
Graphene, carbon nanotubes and PEDOT are all mediocre performers. Therefore, the actual value proposition for graphene, carbon nanotubes and PEDOT is same-for-more, same-for-same and less-for-less, respectively. This runs against a substitution go-to-market strategy.
It is often noted that all these alternatives provide flexibility, giving them a performance advantage over the incumbent. All alternatives however offer flexibility and truly flexible applications continue to belong to the future.
Silver nanowires and metal mesh solutions do offer a performance advantage. They can reduce the sheet resistance to <10ohm/sqr while maintaining reasonable transparency and haze. They are also mechanically flexible. These alternatives have also raised the performance bar in the market, blocking out other alternatives.
The next two years will be make-or-break years for ITO alternatives. Indeed, we anticipate the ITO alternative scene to consolidate. The ITO alternative market conditions dramatically changed in 2014: the incumbents almost doubled the global production capacity and slashed prices by more than 30% to stave off the threat of substitutes.
In parallel, the market segments in which ITO alternatives commanded a performance advantage disappointed. This is because the sales of large-sized touch displays massively undershot expectations and the emergence of plastic but rigid touch displays proved no panacea because it barely budged ITO from its comfort zone.
The going is getting tough for ITO alternatives. The market has not grown as rapidly as anticipated but the number of ITO alternative suppliers has mushroomed with the proliferation of many 'me too' players.
We feel that the leading ITO alternatives will be here to stay. The reducing ITO film prices will change their value proposition form more-for-less to closer to more-for-same. This will slow the commercialisation rate but we anticipate that silver nanowires and metal mesh will reach $190m and $140m in 2025, respectively. The journey will however be slow as ITO is just good enough in most existing applications.
The battle in the metal mesh area is fought on narrowing the linewidth and improving throughput and yield. In silver nanowires, haze was a point of differentiation but now attention is focused on innovation at the formulation level. In silver nanowires, the first mover advantage will also matter
We feel that the next phase of innovation needs to disrupt the way transparent conducting films are patterned. This a major cost driver and a particular handicap for the incumbent, despite the largely depreciated CapEx (barring new unutilized capacity brought online last year). We already see early-stage innovative solutions being touted around. It is simply the case now that being a little bit better and a little cheaper will no longer cut it in this hugely competitive field.
This report provides a detailed assessment of the transparent conductive film and glass markets. It provides a data-driven and quantitative analysis and benchmarking of the incumbents and all the emerging options. We have interviewed and profiles all the key suppliers and innovators of each type technology, providing you with critical and analysed business intelligence (more than 40 interview-based profiles).
We have split the market granularly by application, examining the existing markets such as LCD displays and touch screens (mobile, tablet, notebook, monitor, etc) but also a plethora of emerging ones such as OLED lightings, organic photovoltaics, dye sensitised solar cells, electroluminescent displays, smart windows, flexible wearable devices, etc.
We have built up our detailed market forecast spreadsheet in both sqm and value. We have segmented our forecasts by technology type as well as applications. The technologies that we have covered include ITO-on-Glass, ITO-on-PET, metal mesh, silver nanowires, graphene, carbon nanotubes, PEDOT, etc
All report purchases include up to 30 minutes telephone time with an expert analyst who will help you link key findings in the report to the business issues you're addressing. This needs to be used within three months of purchasing the report.
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