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REPORT # Nano-813 PUBLISHED March 02, 2015
Market Opportunities for Metal Meshes as Transparent Conductors, 2015-2022
  • Advanced Materials
    Metal mesh transparent conductors have come into their own in the past year, emerging as a serious alternative to widely used indium tin oxide (ITO), principally in the touch screen sensor space but also beyond that sector, where meshes are already superior in their ability to effectively spread voltage across a large panel. In fact they have been around for a long time in areas such as solar PV and digital signage, to further extending into more touch applications as well as other markets such as thin-film PV, antennas, EMI/RFI, transparent heating elements, and OLED lighting.
    At the same time, metal mesh TCs still have to overcome some disadvantages. Visibility of grid lines is a no-go for most applications under consideration, as is the problem of “moiré” pattern effects—and newer iterations of metal mesh TCs seem to be solving both issues. Metal meshes also require significant and costly customization for displays. Efforts to replace silver with copper in metal meshes has proved quite challenging. These factors—plus our observation of some recent news and rumors—suggest metal meshes might not penetrate the TC market as fast as once hoped.
    In this report, NanoMarkets analyzes the latest developments in metal mesh TC technology and what we see as the market opportunities, and thus revenue potential, across several key end application sectors. We also compare and contrast metal meshes against the other alternative TC technologies (silver nanowires, carbon nanotubes, conductive polymers, other metal oxides) as well as the incumbent and dominant ITO, to gauge how such market opportunities might be apportioned. The analysis in this report is based on NanoMarkets' extensive program covering the transparent conductor sector for the past decade.

    Chapter One: Introduction
    1.1 Background to this Report
    1.1.1 Why Metal-based TCs
    1.1.2 Surveying the Landscape: Where Metal Mesh TCs Fit In
    1.1.3 Playing the Specmanship Game
    1.1.4 Rumors Afoot: Trouble Brewing?
    1.2 Objectives and Scope of this Report
    1.3 Methodology of this Report
    1.4 Plan of this Report

    Chapter Two: The Evolution of Metal Meshes as Transparent Conductors
    2.1 Evolution of Metal Meshes as Transparent Conductors
    2.1.1 What’s New in Metal Meshes
    2.2 Copper vs. Silver TCs: Are there Opportunities?
    2.3 Advantages and Challenges for Metal Mesh
    2.3.1 Competing on Price
    2.3.2 Customization and Moiré
    2.3.3 Visibility and Thinner Lines
    2.4 Surveying the TC Landscape: How Metal Meshes Size Up
    2.4.1 ITO: Protecting the Kingdom
    2.4.2 Other TCOs: Little Progress to Report
    2.4.3 Silver Nanowires: Metal TC Sibling Rivalry
    2.4.4 Carbon Nanotubes: Back on the Agenda
    2.4.5 Conductive Polymers: Niche Now as Then
    2.4.6 Fourth Generation TCs: Still Taking Shape
    2.4.7 Graphene: Waiting for Godot
    2.4.8 Metallic Films:  The Perfect Material for Future Transparent Conductors?
    2.5 Key Points from this Chapter:

    Chapter Three: Applications and Opportunities for Metal Mesh Transparent Conductors
    3.1 Touch-Screen Sensors: The Foremost TC Opportunity
    3.1.1 The Rise of Pro-Cap, and a Touch-Sensor Revolution
    3.1.2 Reasons to Replace ITO in Pro-Cap Displays
    3.1.3 Analog-Resistive Touch Sensors and TCs
    3.1.4 Opportunities for Metal Mesh in Large Touch Panels
    3.2 OLEDs and TCs: A Potentially Large but Uncertain Market
    3.2.1 The Quest to Get Rid of ITO in OLED Displays
    3.2.2 Replacing ITO in OLEDs with Metal Meshes: The Good and the Bad
    3.2.3  OLED TVs: Great Promise for TCs, But Problems Still to Solve
    3.2.4 OLED Lighting: Also Seeking an Alternative TC
    3.2.5 OLEDs and Alternative TCs: Ifs, Ands, and Buts
    3.3 Conventional Flat-panel LCDs: ITO's Stronghold
    3.3.1  A Note on Transparent Displays and the Transparent Conductor Market
    3.3.2  Reality Check: Updating our Thinking on Flexible Electronics
    3.3.3 E-paper: A Shrinking TC Market
    3.4 Transparent Conductors in Solar Panels
    3.4.1 Thin-Film Solar PV: Any Room Among Other TCOs?
    3.4.2 DSC and OPV: Looking Beyond ITO, Meshes in the Running
    3.5 Other Applications for Metal Mesh TCs
    3.5.1 Anti-static Coatings
    3.5.2 EMI/RFI Shielding
    3.5.3 IR/UV Protection
    3.5.4 Haptics
    3.6 Key Points from this Chapter:

    Chapter Four: Suppliers of Metal Meshes for Transparent Conductors
    4.1 3M (U.S.)
    4.2 Atmel (U.S.)
    4.3 O-Film/Suzhou NanoGrid (China)
    4.4 UniPixel/Intouch (U.S.)
    4.5 PolyIC (Germany)
    4.6 Fujifilm (Japan)
    4.7 Toppan Touch (Japan)
    4.8 Dai Nippon Printing (Japan)
    4.9 Hitachi Chemical (Japan)
    4.10 Rolith (U.S.)
    4.11 Zytronic (U.K.)
    4.12 Visual Planet (U.K.)
    4.13 Young Fast (Taiwan)
    4.14 JTOUCH (Taiwan)
    4.15 Konica Minolta (Japan)
    4.16 Epigem (U.K.)

    Chapter Five: Eight-Year Forecasts for Metal Mesh Transparent Conductors
    5.1 Forecasting Methodology
    5.1.1 Assumptions about Materials Utilization, Wastage and Yields
    5.1.2 Cost Assumptions
    5.1.3 General Economic Assumptions
    5.2 Eight-Year Forecast of Metal Transparent Conductor Markets by Application
    5.3 Eight-Year Forecasts of Metal Mesh TCs in Flat-Panel Displays
    5.4 Eight-Year Forecasts of Metal Mesh TCs in the Touch-Screen Sensor Industry
    5.5 Eight-Year Forecasts of Metal Mesh TCs in OLED Displays
    5.6 Eight-Year Forecasts of Metal Mesh TCs in OLED Lighting
    5.7 Eight-Year Forecasts of Metal Mesh TCs in E-Paper Displays
    5.8 Eight-Year Forecast for Metal Mesh TCs in Solar Panels
    5.9 Eight-Year Forecast of Metal Mesh TCs for Antistatic Coatings
    5.10 Eight-Year Forecast of Metal Mesh TCs for EMI Shielding

    Acronyms and Abbreviations Used In this Report
    About the Author

    List of Exhibits
    Exhibit 2-1: NanoMarkets' Perspective and Expectations of Penetration of Selected Transparent Conductor Materials. 
    Exhibit 2-2: Metal Meshes and Ag Nanowires as TCs. 
    Exhibit 3-1: Why the Touch Sensor Business is Attractive for Transparent Conductor Makers  
    Exhibit 3-2: Long-Term Issues that ITO Faces in the OLED Market 
    Exhibit 5-1: Summary of Forecast of Metal Meshes by Application ($ Millions, except for final line) 
    Exhibit 5-2: Forecast of Metal Mesh TCs for Flat-Panel Displays (LCD and PDP) 
    Exhibit 5-3: Forecast of Metal Mesh TCs for Touch-Screen Displays. 
    Exhibit 5-4: Forecast of Metal Mesh TCs in OLED Displays (Excludes OLED Lighting) 
    Exhibit 5-5: Forecast of Metal Mesh TCs in OLED Lighting. 
    Exhibit 5-6: Forecast of Metal Mesh TCs in E-Paper Displays. 
    Exhibit 5-7: Forecast of Metal Mesh TCs in Thin-Film Photovoltaics. 
    Exhibit 5-8: Forecast of Metal Mesh TCs in OPV/DSC.. 
    Exhibit 5-9: Forecast of Metal Mesh TCs in Antistatic Coatings. 
    Exhibit 5-10: Forecast of Metal Mesh TCs in Electromagnetic Shielding



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