Wednesday, April 23, 2008 | Dominique K. Numakura - DKN Research
FineTech Japan, a major exhibition for the flat panel display (FPD) industry was held at Tokyo Big Sight April 16 - 18, 2008. The exhibition may not be very familiar to the American or European general public because its target audience is FPD manufacturers--not consumers. FPD manufacturers reserved many booths at the show, but occupied only one tenth of the floor space. The majority of the remaining space was gobbled up by equipment manufacturers and material suppliers related to FPD products. The large FPD manufacturers hail from Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and currently, no major FPD manufacturer are based in the U.S. or Europe.
The annual exhibition began seventeen years ago and back then, was much smaller than the JPCA Show (the world largest exhibition for printed circuit boards). The show has since grown year over year, and this year, its floor size was almost equal to the JPCA Show's floor size, with representation from more than 700 companies and organizations. The popularity of this show is understandable since the FPD industry surpassed the 100 billion U.S. dollar mark in 2007; more than doubling the printed circuit board market. The FPD industry remains smaller than the semiconductor market; however, its growth rates are higher than both the semiconductor and circuit board industry.
I had an opportunity to compare manufacturing processes from the FPD industry and the other industries. The photolithography process for FPD does not require nano-level resolution as semiconductors, but demands higher resolution capabilities than HDI printed circuit boards. The working sizes of the volume manufacturing process are much larger than semiconductors or HDI printed circuit boards, translating into a need for larger manufacturing equipment. The conveyor systems of the process have to manage over two square meters thin glass substrates in horizontal, so the machines for the processes have become huge. The materials must have a high level of cleanliness to eliminate defects, and the whole process should be installed in level clean rooms similar to the semiconductors process, but the rooms must be larger.
Although FPD manufacturers rolled out state-of-the-art machines and high quality materials at the show, it is still difficult obtain high processing yields for large size FPD panels. Since this is the case, effective inspection and rework processes are necessary to have high process yields, and the machines employed for the inspection and rework are no small investment.
The next generation or state of the art manufacturing process for large size FPD devices will require an investment of nearly two billion dollars or more. This figure is almost the same investment outlay that leading semiconductor plants needed to upgrade. Small companies don't have the funding.
Typically, to establish a volume production plant for HID circuit boards an initial investment of less than 100 million dollars is necessary. Comparing investment capital needed to purchase technology and manufacturing equipment, the FPD industry's investment is similar to the semiconductor's investment rather than printed circuit boards'.
Currently, the majority of the global FPD market share is spread among only a dozen major manufacturers, because the market's product is used only in a few applications (flat panel TVs, personal computers and cellular phones). However, more applications and new FPD technologies will arise in the future, and will require different specifications and designs with smaller volumes. The FPD market is more competitive than the PCB market, but, in my opinion, there is more growth potential within the FPD industry for equipment manufacturers and material suppliers as long as these companies remain aggressive with developing new "must have" technologies.
Dominique K. Numakura
DKN Research, http://www.dknresearch.com/
Headlines of the week
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1. NEC LCD Technologies (Major display supplier in Japan) 4/14
Has rolled out the world finest 2.7" LCD device (413 ppi) as the monitor device of the professional use high definition cameras.
2. Hitachi (Major electronics company in Japan) 4/14
Has commercialized three new models of PDP TV, "Wooo Series." The new PDP has high quality black color.
3. Taiyo Yuden (Major component supplier in Japan) 4/15
Has commercialized a new 0603 size chip device series of multi-layer high-loss inductors. The new series reduces the SMT spaces 64% from 1005 size.
4. ADEKA (Major electronics material supplier in Japan) 4/15
Has developed a new caution type initiator for the polymerization of the plastic resins of packaging and adhesion.
5. NEC Electronics (Major semiconductor manufacturer in Japan) 4/16
Will invest 2 billion yen to build a new building at Ohita Plant to increase the packaging capacities for the automobile devices. Total investment will be over 8 billion yen.
6. NEC Electronics (Major semiconductor manufacturer in Japan) 4/16
Has started the sample supply of new CCD linear sensor with a plastic package for hybrid machines of the office equipment.
7. Hitachi High Tech (Equipment and material supplier in Japan) 4/16
Has developed a new insulated metal powder with SiO2 as the filler of plastic resins. It is effective to increase the shielding effects of the plastic housings.
8. Seiko Epson (Major electronics company in Japan) 4/16
Has started the volume production of the re-writable control IC modules for the e-papers developed by E Ink.
9. PVI (Prime View International, display device supplier in Taiwan) 4/17
Will double the manufacturing capacity of electronic paper devices. PVI will complete the acquisition of BOE Hydis, LCD manufacturer in Korea next month.
10. JSR (Major electronics material supplier in Japan) 4/16
Will invest 2 billion yen to build a new plant in Yamanashi Prefecture for the volume production of the lithium ion capacitors.
11. TDK (Major component supplier in Japan) 4/16
Will strengthen the power supply business as one of the core businesses in the group targeting over one billion U.S. dollars in revenue by 2010.
12. Furukawa Electric (Major cable company in Japan) 4/17
Has invested 320 million yen to install a new manufacturing line of dicing die bonding film (DDF) for the booming demand of solid state drive (SSD). The total capacity should double to 2 million square meters per year.
13. Hitachi Chemical (Major electronics material supplier in Japan) 4/17
Will invest 3 billion yen to build a new plant in Singapore for the inner layers of HDI multi-layer printed circuit boards.
14. Fuji Film (Major photo film supplier in Japan) 4/18
Will start the operation of the fourth manufacturing line at the Ashigara Plant. The new line will produce 2300 mm wide polarization films for large size LCD TVs.
15. TDK (Major component supplier in Japan) 4/18
Has commercialized a new LAN common mode filter for automobile applications. The new module uses ceramic substrate and has a wide range operation temperature (-40 to +150*C).
Interesting Literature Concerning the Packaging Industry
Articles from DKN Research
1. "Screen Printing for High-Density Flexible Electronics," Robert Turunen, Masafumi Nakayama and Dominique Numakura, Printed Circuit FAB, October, 2007.
2. "Total Process Solution for the High-Density Multi-layer Flexible Printable Electronic Circuits," (Japanese only) Dominique Numakura, Denshi Zairyo, October, 2007.
3. New "Roll to Roll Production of Flexible Circuits, Possibilities and Issues," Dominique Numakura, Joho Kiko, Tokyo, March 2008 (Japanese only).
4. "Coombs' Printed Circuits Handbook, 6th Edition, Part 15-Flexible Circuits," Dominique Numakura, McGraw Hill, New York, September, 2007.
5. New "Screen Printing Process for High Density Flexible Electronics," Robert Turunen, Dominique Numakura, Masafumi Nakayama and Hisayuki Kawasaki, IPC Printed Circuit Expo/APEX and the Designers Summit, April 2008.
6. New "Global Market of Flexible Circuits, Market Trends and Technical Design Trends by Applications," Dominique Numakura, Electronic Journal, February, 2008 (English power point file is available).
From the Major Industry Magazines
1. "A Different Look at PCB Manufacture in China," Chris Jorgensen, CircuiTree, March 2008.
2. "ESD Control for Class ESDS Devices," Roger Peirce, Circuits Assembly, April 2008.
3. "Flexible Circuits Market: Surging Ahead," Ashwin T. Ananthakrishnan, SMT, March, 2008.
4. "SIPs Give More to Moore," W. R. Bottoms, Printed Circuit Design & FAB, April, 2008.
5. "IC Package Drives Contact Technology Innovation," Ila Pal, Advanced Packaging, March, 2008.
7. "Microflex Circuit Applications for Medical Devices," Luke Volpe, MD & DI Magazine, January 2008.