superC Touch -- [ 2023.08.8] SuperC-Touch ultra-thin diamond glass film impacts Samsung UTG
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[ 2023.08.8] SuperC-Touch ultra-thin diamond glass film impacts Samsung UTG

SuperC-Touch ultra-thin diamond glass film impacts Samsung UTG
By Senior Reporter Ariel Te - August 2, 2023 08:0002356 AM

The ultra-thin diamond glass film DiamondSoft newly invented by SuperC-Touch has a total thickness of less than 30um. It is as soft as paper and as hard as diamond. It is comparable to Samsung UTG for folding screen protection, but the cost is less than 1/3. It is expected to hit the high-priced UTG ultra-thin glass. The picture shows a schematic diagram of a folding mobile phone and a folding screen protection. image / unsplash

It is easy to make glass 100 times thicker than UTG ultra-thin glass, and most glass factories can do it; it is not difficult to make glass 1/100 thinner than UTG ultra-thin glass. Tier 1 manufacturers can do it too. So, is the development direction of ultra-thin glass more promising from thick to thin or from thin to thick?

Ultra-thin glass strategy development dilemma

From thick to thin, the UTG ultra-thin glass jointly produced by German SCHOTT and Samsung is the first to be promoted, and the high-speed slit-drawing glass production method is adopted. In order to successfully draw ultra-thin glass, the viscosity of the raw material and the drawing speed must be precisely controlled, and it is also necessary to avoid uneven thickness, holes, or even fragments during the glass drawing process. In fact, the rollers, pressure control, surface flatness and elasticity of the ultra-thin glass transmission are also key, as long as the slightest oversight, the ultra-thin glass may shatter during the transmission process.

After the original ultra-thin glass is produced, it needs to be cut and chemically strengthened in the manufacturing process. For the production plant, these are also major difficulties that challenge the process capability. High R&D expenses and equipment costs are required to overcome various factors such as the low yield rate of ultra-thin glass products, which will greatly increase the production cost of folding screens and eventually become the main pain point of folding machines.

Developing from thin to thick is the development direction of many hard coating  factories. They coated silicon oxide (glass) on the adhesive material. Once the coating thickness exceeds 6um, the difficulty of production will increase exponentially, but the most important key is that the produced thin glass cannot be chemically strengthened. Without chemical strengthening, it is natural to face the problem of glass brittleness. Therefore, it is difficult for such glass products to meet the usability standard.

In fact, the biggest advantage of chemically strengthened glass is not the improvement in hardness, but the solution to the fragile characteristics of glass. Fragile glass not only has no protective ability, but also has many potential risks.

SuperC-Touch new ultra-thin glass solution

The ultra-thin diamond glass film (DiamondSoft) newly invented by SuperC-Touch has a total thickness of less than 30um. The ultra-thin diamond glass film can protect the folding screen comparable to Samsung UTG, but the cost is less than 1/3. In the future, it will become an advantageous solution to replace high-priced UTG ultra-thin glass.

In 2023, the shipment of foldable mobile phones is estimated to reach 19.8 million units, and the annual growth rate is expected to exceed 50%. If Chinese brands such as Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi, and Honor all join the foldable machine competition, it is estimated that the price of the foldable screen will fall between US$150-250.

Among them, the screen protection part is the key cost of the folding screen. The base material PI of the folding screen is soft. When a hard object presses the surface, it is likely to cause collapse and break the circuit layer of the OLED screen. Therefore, it is necessary to have a foldable, non-shattering, and non-collapsing protective layer to protect the circuit.

The production line of the panel factory will be greatly activated

DiamondSoft ultra-thin diamond glass film adopts panel process, and 15um diamond-grade strengthened glass is grown on the surface of 15um transparent PI. It has non-fragile performance without additional chemical strengthening process. The use of a mature panel manufacturing process can save high research and development costs and equipment investment. The surface is paper-soft yet diamond-hard, and most importantly, unbreakable.

DiamondSoft combines two incompatible soft and hard properties into one, which can make a super protective film that is resistant to folding, not easy to break, and capable of distributing impact and pressure. It can avoid screen scratches and internal circuit damage caused by impact and scratches of foreign objects. Only when the folding screen has such performance can it withstand the rigorous test of fingernails and stylus.

Folding screen ultimate solution

SuperC-Touch' DiamondSoft technology was invented to protect the flexible fingerprint sensor. The base material of the fingerprint sensor is the plastic material PI, and the circuit structure has the same fragile burden as the flexible OLED panel. The technology invented by SuperC-Touch to protect the flexible fingerprint sensor can also be used to replace the encapsulation layer of the flexible OLED to achieve the purpose of protecting the circuit and anti-scratch.

The touch sensor can also be embedded in the structure to make a product like Samsung Super OLED. Compared with Super OLED, the thickness and cost of UTG are saved, because there is no UTG lamination process, and there is no loss of lamination yield. It is the ultimate solution for folding screens.

Blue ocean-level new applications: the market outlook is optimistic

DiamondSoft is easy to mass-produce because it adopts a mature manufacturing process for display panels. It can not only eliminate excess production capacity of display panel factories, but also activate low-generation amorphous silicon panel production lines that have lost competitiveness. Moreover, since no chemical strengthening is required, the follow-up processing of the product is simple, which will effectively increase the yield rate of folding screens, reduce production costs, and help the penetration rate of folding machines in the mobile phone market.

The screen protection performance of ultra-thin diamond glass film DiamondSoft can not only be used for folding mobile phones, but also for screen protection of tablets and touch laptops, and is also suitable for use in the legendary APPLE foldable tablet computer. In time, if it can further replace the tempered glass used in the existing tablet computers, it is estimated that there are hundreds of millions of units per year, and the future market potential is quite worth looking forward to.