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Metal mesh touch panel's application and effect
Aug 13, 2018

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At a time when ITO is on the rise, a new generation of touch technology, Metal Mesh, has quietly emerged. As the size of the screen is larger, the corresponding data processing will increase, and the requirement for resistance to resistance will also increase. When the size reaches 15 inches or more, the function of ITO will be limited. At this time, Metal Mesh and graphene are limited. The advantages of alternative materials are gradually emerging, and the technical maturity of Metal Mesh makes it the most likely alternative to mass production. With the development of Metal Mesh, Metal Mesh has been expanding into medium and large size applications of more than 15 inches, including TV panels, teaching boards, and smart home applications.

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    According to the setting of Microsoft and Corning, Metal Mesh is used on the car or in 2020, and the reality seems to be to advance the application's time schedule. And the large size of 60-inch to 300-inch, such as display windows, construction glass, museums and display panels of large exhibition venues, Metal Mesh has a very broad application prospect, and even the trend of entering the military market is very clear. According to data surveys, in 2013, global smartphone shipments ranged from 1.0 to 1.1 billion, supporting flat-panel and touch computers. Metal Mesh has a market capacity of 600 million US dollars, if it is enlarged to small and medium-sized applications such as car glass and teaching boards. This market capacity will be expanded to 2 billion US dollars, and the application to the 60-inch to 300-inch large size field will open the market of 8 billion US dollars. Such a large market capacity is one of the reasons why many companies continue to evolve Metal Mesh process technology and seek leading mass production. In addition to the clear market prospects, Metal Mesh's characteristics and cost advantages over ITO are also very obvious, especially in large-size panels.


            Metal Mesh has a low resistance value, which can be measured from 5 ohms to 100 ohms, and all lines can be densely etched with low resistance. The flexible features allow the touch screen to achieve a narrow bezel or even no borders. ITO or other metal wires float on top of the PET material, while the Metal Mesh nanosilver process wraps it in a plastic medium, when bent It won't break, which is already used in some wearable watches.

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     At the same time, Metal Mesh can also be used as a multi-layer composite, which can make two layers and three layers on PET materials to save the cost of PET materials. Its conductivity and transparency are also high, and it will not cause adverse effects on the visual experience due to the metal mesh. From the cost analysis, for example, every square meter of touch screen, Metal Mesh material cost is only 3 US dollars, far lower than the average cost of ITO 24 US dollars, and the equipment cost is only one-third of ITO, but also Customized to meet the different needs of different customers.

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    From the above point of view, the advantages of Metal Mesh are obviously unquestionable. But without the technology and equipment, Metal Mesh can be mass-produced and commercialized, and more importantly, it needs the support of professional technical team. This is the most serious challenge facing many manufacturers. At the same time, in order to realize the mass production of the Metal Mesh touch panel, there are more problems to be solved than the team.

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    First, the current industry's Metal Mesh yield is not stable, which is the first obstacle for Metal Mesh touch technology to achieve mass production. In addition, how to find the perfect match between Metal Mesh and LCD panel and how to achieve flexible production are important thresholds for the actual mass production of Metal Mesh in the future.


    Second, to fully control the Metal Mesh technology, manufacturers must be able to independently produce Metal Mesh, a key conductive material. Otherwise, even if touch panel manufacturers step into Metal Mesh touch technology, I am afraid that they will repeat the same mistakes. "The same as the thin film touch panel technology, the key materials are subject to people" fate.


    The third is the cost of the combination of Metal Mesh and LCD. When Metal Mesh is paired with an LCD panel, the so-called Murray effect occurs. In general, if the metal wire conductive pattern of Metal Mesh can be adjusted and modified according to the different LCD liquid crystal panels to be matched, this problem can be effectively solved. However, individual open design patterns may make the cost of Metal Mesh very high, which will make implementation difficult.

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    In general, the obvious advantages of Metal Mesh make it possible to become the next generation of touch materials, especially in the application of large-size panels. Although Metal Mesh faces a series of technical and market challenges in order to achieve mass production, once these problems are solved, the era of mass production applications will come. By then, a large area of touch interaction will slowly penetrate into our daily lives, bringing a truly intelligent life experience to the general public.

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    Early metal grids were metal grid patterns formed on plastic films such as PET using metal materials such as silver or copper or oxides. The theoretical minimum surface resistance can reach 0.1 ohm/□, and it has electromagnetic shielding function to reduce signal interference; however, the touch sensor pattern obtained by the method has a slightly thicker line width (especially the line width exceeds 5 μm). The interference interference is very obvious and is only suitable for viewing screens that are far away. The earlier Japanese companies that developed Fuji and the county were all producing metal mesh films in 2009 and later used by touch panel operators. Fuji and the county are directly supplying touch sensors and even modules to help terminal operators lower the technical barriers to entry. In addition to these two companies, the US company Atmel provides solutions for touch ICs to transparent conductive films, but due to late development of technology, and the production process is affected by process problems, the mainland companies are affected by Atmel development. The impact of the results, and therefore attempt to strengthen R & D and manufacturing capabilities to obtain a complete solution.


    The basic technology of the metal grid can be mainly divided into three types. The first is to directly screen the metal ink, and the second is to apply the whole surface metal on the PET film, and then pass through the yellow light lithography process to wash away the excess components. A grid is created; the third technique is similar to the second, except that the metal is changed to silver bromide and chemically reduced to silver. Fuji, which originally produced silver salt film, adopted the third method and became the world leader in metal mesh film. Other operators, such as the county and mainland manufacturers, used the first technology, while Atmel used the second. Technology, there are also other technologies developed by themselves, such as the Japanese company Achilles, but it has not yet been put into practical use.

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   Metallic grid mass production information, in the first half of 2013, Taiwanese manufacturers ASUS 7-inch tablet PCs, mainland manufacturers Lenovo NB, etc. took the lead in using metal grid; mainland manufacturers Huawei, Japanese manufacturers Enyi 禧 (NEC) smartphones have also joined, In particular, the latter is produced using metal evaporation techniques. In addition, 20 also have a GFF solution or a MetalMesh technology model with a thin film touch control. In 2014, although the technology is still in its infancy, it has potential in the field of medium and large size products on the road to replace ITO's thin film touch panels.

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    Although MetalMesh has a lot of vendors, is topical in the market, and is not expensive, MetalMesh has not yet been mass produced. As Li Xiangyu, general manager of SuperC_Touch pointed out, the problem is that it does not achieve sufficient light transmittance. In the process of forming thin lines, 95% to 99% of the touch-sensitive coating area must be removed, resulting in lower touch signals. 20 to 100 times, today's touch ICs are difficult to support; second, in order to make the eyes invisible, the metal wire must be less than 5 microns, and the yellow light development process or precision printing technology is used, but the cost is high. Therefore, metal grid technology is to be tested in order to make metal wire widths below 5 micrometers not to break, to solve metal reflection problems, and to oxidize materials.

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    In recent years, with the continuous improvement of materials and technology, MetalMesh is no longer a myth, and the related technical difficulties have been broken, fully realizing the mass production of MetalMesh. Mr. Wang Lei, general manager of CINOTOP, pointed out that the advanced light and shadow imaging technology combined with the over-etching method to form ultra-fine lines, so that the mesh of Metal Mesh meets the needs of various products.

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         The fabricated metal grid products not only meet the customer's reliability test requirements, but also extend the touch communication integrated product, allowing the integrator to save the trouble of the antenna module.



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