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Taiwan, Japan unveil jointly developed new conductive touch panel technology

TAIPEI -- Taiwan and Japan jointly unveiled a new touch panel technology on Tuesday that promises to reduce the production cost of the technology component by 30 percent compared with existing technology.

Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), in collaboration with Japanese printing company Komori Machinery Co., has developed a conductive layer for touch panels made of metal mesh rather than indium tin oxide (ITO), the most commonly used material at present.

The new technology, which can be applied to smartphones, tablets and notebooks, can reduce the complexity of the production and the costly lithography and etching processes required by ITO films, according to the ITRI.

The metal mesh, consisting of lines of a minimum width of 5 um, or 0.0005 cm, is highly transparent and responsive, said Liu Chun-ting, general director of the ITRI's Electronics and Optoelectronics Research Laboratories.

In addition, Komori's printing technology will enable the printing to be done in one step instead of two, Liu said.

Taiwan is a leading player in the global panel market and this new technology can give the country an edge in the fiercely competitive market, he added.

“This new technology can put Taiwan at least one year ahead of its competitors,” Liu told CNA, adding that many local companies are expected to be using the technology to manufacture touch panels by next year.

“This is a great chance to replace ITO film technology, since the new metal mesh has low sheet resistance and is cheaper to make,” he added.

Komori representative Tsutomu Niitsuma also expressed delight and confidence about the cooperation.

“I am confident that this collaboration project will further strengthen ties between Japan and Taiwan, and the technology is contributing significantly to the industry,” said Niitsuma.

The new technology is the latest result of a joint development project Komori and ITRI began last January.

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