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Digitimes Insight: Japan earthquake has no significant impact on touch panel industry
Jason Yang, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei [Wednesday 30 March 2011]

Overall supply of touch panel materials has seen limited impact from the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan, as most of the production plants are located in western Japan away from the disaster areas.

ITO is a key material for touch panels. ITO films are needed to make resistive touch and film-based projected touch panels. Although major ITO film suppliers are from Japan, most of their production plants are located away from the disaster area. There are also many ITO suppliers from Korea, Taiwan and China. Therefore, ITO supply is expected to remain normal.

For the supply of ITO targets, leading supplier JX Nippon Mining & Metals' Isohara plant in Ibaraki Prefecture and third-largest supplier Tosoh Specialty Materials' plant in Yamagata Prefecture were seriously affected by the earthquake. But second-largest supplier Mitsui Mining & Smelting's plant was not affected. Production outside Japan should help keep sufficient supply of ITO targets.

JX is also the leading supplier of treated rolled copper foil used in PCB and its production plant in Ibaraki Prefecture was seriously damaged. But the production plant of the second largest supplier Fukuda Metal Foil & Powder was away from the disaster areas. JX and Fukuda both have treated rolled copper foil production plants in Southeastern Asia and China, and therefore supply for the component will remain normal.

Anisotropic conductive film (ACF) is used to bind touch panels with control ICs. Japan-based Hitachi Chemical and Sony Chemical & Information Device together account for 90% of the total ACF market. Hitachi's Shimodate plant and Sony's Kunuma plant are both located close to the disaster areas, but they have confirmed that no damage was done to production equipment and they resumed production on March 16-17. Both plants are expected to be affected by the rolling black-outs but will maintain utilization rates of over 70%.

Top-4 ITO film providers

Company

Location

Nitto Denko

Hiroshima prefecture

Dike

Kyoto

Teijin Chemicals

Hiroshima Prefecture

Suzutora

Aichi Prefecture

Source: Digitimes Research, March 2011

Japan major touch panel makers

Company

Technology

Plant location

Note

Nissha

High-end resistive touch
Film-based projected capacitive touch

Kyoto

Away from disaster areas, no significant damage

Gunze

Kyoto

Away from disaster areas, no significant damage

Ishikawa Prefecture

Shiga Prefecture

Mie Prefecture

Glass-based projected capacitive touch

Hyogo Prefecture

Away from disaster areas, no significant damage

Andes (AIS)

Glass-based projected capacitive touch

Aomori Prefecture

Away from disaster areas, no significant damage.

Source: Digitimes Research, March 2011

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