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ITRI lifts lid on advanced printing tech for lower-priced touch panels

TAIPEI -- The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) unveiled yesterday a new printing technology jointly developed with Japan's Komori Corp., one of the world's largest printing press makers, to help cut the cost of touch panels.

The non lithography roll-to-roll fine-line printing technology can be used to replace the photolithograph process currently applied to touch panel manufacturing and to fabricate touch panels with ultra-slim bezels, according to ITRI.

The printing technology is set to reduce manufacturing times and costs for next generation touch panels and is expected to be introduced for mass production next year, the state-run institute said.

The technology can also be applied to organic LED (OLED) lighting, high-speed circuit boards, displays and solar panels in the near future, said C.T. Liu, general director of ITRI's Electronics and Optoelectronics Research Laboratories.

“Taiwanese firms that use this printing technology will be able to enjoy technological and cost advantages of three to five years over their Japanese and Korean rivals,” Liu told a press conference.

The advanced printing technology, he said, can reduce the costs of equipment, materials and manufacturing for touch panel makers at a time when light and slim bezels have become the mainstream of smart portable devices.

Tsutomu Niitsuma, representative director of Komori Machinery Co., a subsidiary of the Komori group, described ITRI as the best partner for Komori because Taiwan and Japan are major technology and manufacturing regions for electronics products.

“Our great collaboration proves that printed electronics can lead to innovations for existing products,” Niitsuma said at the press conference.

According to an ITRI forecast, the worldwide touch panel market will grow from US$23.4 billion in 2013 to US$38.7 billion in 2016, with a compound annual growth rate of 26 percent between 2011 and 2016.

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