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Activities in the Flat Panel Display Materials Business

 

Leading Progress in LCD Films through Advanced Quality Control and Appropriate Responses to Market Needs

Liquid crystal display (LCD) panels are used in a range of electronic products such as flat screen TVs, PCs, and cell phones. FUJIFILM has been supporting the popularization of LCD panels by supplying high-quality and highly functional LCD films since the 1970s.

Note: The article on this page is taken from Sustainability Report 2010.

Pursuit of beautiful pictures leading to the development of films for most advanced LCD panels

[Photo]Hisamasa Abe Director, Senior Vice President General Manager of Flat Panel Display Materials Division FUJIFILM Corporation

Hisamasa Abe
Director, Senior Vice President
General Manager of Flat Panel
Display Materials Division
FUJIFILM Corporation

FUJIFILM manufactures photographic films by coating nearly 20 types of emulsion layers (*1) evenly on a highly transparent base film. We use a very unique and highly advanced technology to coat all the layers at the same time for higher productivity. Utilizing these advantageous photographic technologies, we have developed the optimum materials for flat panel displays. Special films developed by FUJIFILM are used in multiple numbers in the monitors of PCs and the increasingly popular flat-screen LCD TVs.

FUJIFILM began providing LCD panel films following the appearance of automatic LCD calculators on the market, which contributed to the spread of LCDs in the latter half of the 1970s. Since then we have been expanding the business with our Flat Panel Display Materials Division (FPD Materials Division) working to keep up with the progress of LCDs, including upsizing for use in liquid crystal monitors and notebook PCs, colorization, and the release and spread of LCD TVs.

Major LCD films marketed by the FPD Materials Division include triacetylcellulose (TAC) film to protect the polarizing plates indispensable for LCDs, wide-view (WV) film that expands viewing angles, clean vivid (CV) antireflective film, and trunser film for color filters to render colors. In particular, we have nearly an 80% share of the market for TAC film and a 100% share of the market for WV film.

FUJIFILM has received high evaluation for its LCD film materials from flat panel display manufacturers by optimizing its product quality through the use of its advantageous photographic technologies, and by stabilizing supplies and developing and improving its products in close communication and cooperation with customers in prompt response to changes in market needs.

  • *1 Composed of about 100 organic compounds with a thickness of around 15 micrometers.

Cross-section of an LCD

[figure]Cross-section of an LCD

TAC film is used medium for CV and WV film.

Ensuring high quality and expanding production to become more competitive

[Photo]FUJIFILM’ TAC film

A polarizing plate made using PET film, which generates moire patterns (on the left) and a polarizing plate made using FUJIFILM's TAC film (on the right)

TAC film, which was traditionally used as photographic film, began to attract attention as an LCD film because the transparency is much higher than for film made from other materials. An LCD panel is structured with multiple layers of a glass substrate, filters, and film. For the backlight to permeate through the layers to project images on the screen effectively, it is necessary to use highly transparent materials for the layers. TAC film is highly transparent but can contain fine foreign matter because it is made from natural materials. At that time, however, FUJIFILM had already established a technique to remove the matter to a high degree, and so TAC film made by the company was evaluated highly.

We also actively expanded the production capacity of our films in response to customers' needs for larger film for larger screens and the rapidly increasing demand, and the expansion has given us a competitive edge. A lot of different materials go into the making of LCD panels and they could not be manufactured if any one of the materials is not in supply. The popularization of LCD panels would also be slowed down if panel manufacturers could not respond promptly to increases in demand for the product.

Always recognizing its responsibilities as a supplier, FUJIFILM has been expanding its production system to supply the necessary films to LCD panel manufacturers in response to their needs and the trend in global demand since the initial spread of LCD panels. We have won the trust of our customers by ensuring a stable supply of these films even when demand increased sharply, and are now enjoying a top share of the market.

Producing TAC film intensively in Japan and supplying it to the world to meet increasing demand

Due to the upsizing and rapid spread of LCD TVs, shipments of LCD panels has been increasing continuously at a high rate of at least 20% per year in recent years. The world penetration rate of LCD TVs, however, is still at around 30%. The use of the panels is expanding and will further expand into new markets in the BRICs and other emerging economies. Now large LCDs are also increasingly being used for digital signage. FUJIFILM will meet customer needs in a timely way while ensuring a stable supply of LCD films in response to increasing demand.

Manufacture of the core products of the FPD Materials Division, including TAC film and highly functional WV and CV films made based on TAC film, requires extremely advanced production technologies and strict quality control, and we therefore manufacture all the films in our three factories in Japan (FUJIFILM Kanagawa Factory, FUJIFILM Opto Materials, and FUJIFILM Kyushu) and ship the products both within and outside Japan. There is still enough room to expand production capacity at FUJIFILM Kyushu, which has a large site, and we will continue to make the appropriate equipment investments in response to increases in demand.

Total demand for LCDs (by area)

[figure]Total demand for LCDs (by area)

(Surveyed by DisplaySearch in 2009)

FUJIFILM’ TAC film production capacity

[figure]FUJIFILM’ TAC film production capacity

Integrating marketing, development, and production and further strengthening relations with customers

For LCD materials, which are industrial materials, it is critical to develop products in cooperation with customers, who are the polarizing plate and LCD panel manufacturers. The FPD Materials Division has been working to integrate its business operations by sharing information and problems among the marketing, production, R&D, and production technology staff through regular meetings. We will continue to develop and manufacture products in prompt response to customer needs in the rapidly changing IT and TV markets, thereby helping spread LCDs and supporting the growth of our own business.

Acquiring biomass product certification through the procurement of carbon-neutral materials

Environmentally friendly procurement of materials

[Photo]Biomass product certificate that allows the use of the biomass mark(upper) and an example of the use of the mark on a product label (biomass mark and the registration number written under the product name)

Biomass product certificate that allows the use of the biomass mark(upper) and an example of the use of the mark on a product label (biomass mark and the registration number written under the product name)

We use natural cellulose as a material for TAC, which serves as a base material for FUJIFILM’ LCD panel films, such as TAC film used to protect the polarizing plates, WV film to expand the viewing angle, and CV film to prevent screen reflections. (Cellulose accounts for about 50% of the material in TAC.)

At present, it is particularly important to reduce global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which cause global warming. On the other hand, trees are approved as carbon-neutral materials because they grow by absorbing CO2, and the amount of CO2 emitted when they are discarded and incinerated can be offset by the amount previously absorbed by them. To highlight the fact that its LCD panel films contribute to the mitigation of global warming, FUJIFILM acquired biomass product certification for five of its product items including TAC film from the Japan Organics Recycling Association in 2006.

Polarizing plate and LCD panel manufacturers, who are our customers, are also committed to reducing the environmental impact of their products through green purchasing and by other means, and in response, FUJIFILM delivers its products with the biomass product certification mark on the product labels.

Submitting an analysis certificate created by a third-party organization to provide information on chemicals used in our products

Provision of information on chemical substances used in our products

[Photo]Analysis certificate created by a third-party organization and submitted to a customer, describing the concentrations of substances used in products and the measurement methods

Analysis certificate created by a third-party organization and submitted to a customer, describing the concentrations of substances used in products and the measurement methods

As the functionality of LCDs increased, more chemical substances began to be added to LCD panel films, which were initially made using natural materials. On the other hand, customers, such as the polarizing plate manufacturers to whom we supply the films, are increasingly committed to procuring materials and components that are both environmentally and socially friendly through green procurement and CSR-oriented procurement. In response, the Fujifilm Group has been strengthening its related measures.

The national government and industrial associations have their own regulations on chemical substances used in products, but in the past each supplier reported on their use to their customers in their own format. The use of different formats by suppliers, however, imposes a great burden on the supply chain in checking and managing the data, and so the FPD Materials Division decided to begin complying with the criteria of the Joint Article Management Promotion-consortium (JAMP) in 2009. JAMP is an organization established by 17 Japanese companies including FUJIFILM in September 2006. The FPD Materials Division now also submits analysis certificates made by third-party organizations to the polarizing plate manufacturers and other customers to increase the objectivity of its data on the substances used in its products.

Contributing to energy conservation by the provision of highly functional films

Contributing to energy conservation through products

Compared with cathode-ray tube (CRT) TVs, flat-screen TVs are lighter and more compact, not needing much space for installation. These TVs are also more environmentally friendly because they are more energy efficient.

In particular an LCD TV consumes 30% less electricity than a CRT TV of the same size. The energy conserved by all LCD TVs sold in the world in 2009 comes to 6.1 million tons-CO2 when calculated based on the total area of LCDs shipped in the year. This amount is equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of about 1.21 million households of Japan.

According to the assessment of the environmental impact of TVs throughout their lifecycle from manufacture and use to disposal, the electricity they consume in the use stage has a large environmental impact, and so replacing CRT TVs with flat-screen ones will contribute greatly to protecting the environment.

Flat-screen TVs began to be popularized on a wide scale in Japan around 2003 to 2004 and in 2010 the diffusion rate reached 70% for households with at least two members (according to a survey on consumption trends conducted by the Cabinet Office of Japan). Also overseas, flat-screen TVs have become a mainstream product in the TV market. The use of these TVs expanded rapidly due to upsizing, lower prices, and improvements in image quality, and FUJIFILM has been contributing to the environment by developing and releasing onto the market a range of films indispensable in the manufacture of LCD TVs.

Shipment of thin-film transistor LCDs and reduction in power consumption in comparison with CRT TVs (estimates)

[figure]The data for thin-film transistor LCDs is used here. Assumptions: For the electricity consumed by LCDs, the average data shown for 32-inch models in the energy conservation performance catalog for the summer of 2009 (published by the Japanese Agency for Natural Resources and Energy) was used to calculate the electricity consumed by thin-film transistor LCDs (based on the total area of LCDs shipped in the year). LCDs were assumed to consume 30% less electricity than CRT TVs of the same size.

* The data for thin-film transistor LCDs is used here.
Assumptions: For the electricity consumed by LCDs, the average data shown for 32-inch models in the energy conservation performance catalog for the summer of 2009 (published by the Japanese Agency for Natural Resources and Energy) was used to calculate the electricity consumed by thin-film transistor LCDs (based on the total area of LCDs shipped in the year). LCDs were assumed to consume 30% less electricity than CRT TVs of the same size.

Participating in a team to support paddy rice farmers and protect the local environment in Minami Aso

Cooperation between a manufacturing site and a local community

[Photo]Planting rice together

Brochure created by FUJIFILM Kyushu to introduce the team activity

FUJIFILM Kyushu (Kikuyo-machi, Kikuchi-gun, Kumamoto Prefecture) manufactures 50% or more of the Fujifilm Group’ LCD films. The company has been actively committed to human exchanges and protecting the rich local natural environment in cooperation with local residents. In 2010, as part of this effort, it participated in a team organized by Minami Aso Village to support paddy rice farmers.

Minami Aso Village is located in the south of Aso Caldera, one of the popular sightseeing spots in Kumamoto Prefecture, and is adjacent to Kikuchi-gun, where FUJIFILM Kyushu is located. There are a lot of paddy fields in the village, but with the aging of the owner farmers and the lack of successors, it is becoming difficult for the farmers to maintain the fields. The team to help the paddy farmers overcome their difficulties was organized by Minami Aso Village specifically to help them plant and harvest the rice. FUJIFILM Kyushu informed many employees of the team activity and about 50 employees joined the team this time.

If the local paddy fields are abandoned, it will lead to a loss of an important aspect of the Japanese rural scene. Also the paddy fields will stop being able to retain water, causing various problems including an increased risk of flooding and a decrease in spring water. Joining the team provided employees with an opportunity to support the local community and helped them and their families increase their environmental awareness.

[Photo]Planting rice together

Planting rice together

[Photo]Commemorative photo of all the participants

Commemorative photo of all the participants

Note: The article on this page is taken from Sustainability Report 2010.



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