The optically functional film types covered in this report include front-surface films for antiglare/antireflection, viewing angle compensation and color/contrast enhancement; polarizer films; and BLU films (reflectors, diffusers, prisms, reflective polarizers, and multifunctional films). These materials are sold for OLED, e-paper and plasma display sectors as well as for the market-dominant LCDs.
Although the display films business is mature, NanoMarkets identifies OLED displays as presenting a strong long-term market for film makers as OLEDs begin to take market share from traditional LCD strongholds such as mobile displays and televisions. Like LCDs, OLEDs will use antiglare/antireflection films, but their success will also boost certain kinds of specialist films. One opportunity is films designed to increase the color uniformity of OLEDs at wider viewing angles. Another is certain kinds of polarizer films that improve the bright light readability of OLEDs.
And, according to the report, more immediate opportunities can still be found in the LCD film business.
By 2016, contrast/color enhancement films for LCDs will bring in almost $300 million. NanoMarkets remains bullish on this sector, because there is a growing tendency among LCD makers to shift production towards higher performance displays that urgently need these kinds of films. This shift is being driven by competition from both OLEDs and sophisticated consumers looking for a 3-D/HD visual environment. These films may also be combined with antiglare/antireflection films to create multifunctional products, reducing costs further.
Prism/brightness enhancement films are already the largest sector of the display optical film market, but are expected to see further growth. Boosting sales here will be the need to optimize the amount of light coming out of the BLU for a given power level in mobile displays. These films also enable the cost of using fewer LEDs in the BLU to be traded off against the cost of using more sophisticated films like reflective polarizers.
The development and commercialization of multifunctional optical films – for example, films that combine