Putting quality first in e-paper display design & manufacture
01 March 2021
It’s easy to overlook the huge effort & intellectual investment that underpins the objects & devices we use every day. In stark terms, the industrialisation process relies on taking complex techniques & commoditising them. This approach to mass manufacturing underpins global commerce – and for any technology to become ubiquitous, it must move in this direction.
The full version of this article was originally featured in the March 2021 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.
As volumes grow, the real effort starts – and something that can be produced on a small scale must become something that can be reliably manufactured on a much larger scale. As Alchin Wang, General Manager at leading EPD (e-paper displays) manufacturer, Pervasive Displays tells us here, it’s often this growth period that is the most challenging for manufacturers, who must meet increased demand while maintaining the high standards that secured their early success.
All vertical sectors must comply with this reality. Those that obviously do include automotive, where a conservative approach to change ensures the scalability of new designs. The semiconductor industry follows a similarly cautious adoption of new technologies, at a pace that, arguably, sets the bar for all of the vertical sectors it enables or supports – including automotive.
While the semiconductor industry is well established, its underlying technology is constantly being applied to create new and disruptive solutions. One example here is electronic paper, or e-paper. Pervasive Displays is the industry's leader in e-paper display design and manufacture, a position that has been achieved through continued development and improvement in its manufacturing processes. This level of excellence certainly isn't an industry commodity, indicating that the e-paper sector is not as mature as other parts of the semiconductor industry. However, through its focused efforts, Pervasive Displays now produces e-paper displays that deliver the industry's highest level of performance and reliability, under all operating conditions.
What makes e-paper unique?
There are many display technologies in use today, most of which can be seen as highly mature and, therefore, relatively commoditised. This includes LCD (liquid-crystal display), LED (light-emitting diode) and even OLED (organic light-emitting diode). What makes e-paper different to these other types of display – and why that difference is fundamental to their design – is that none of these commoditised display technologies have been positioned as a true replacement to paper. This brings significant challenges that must be overcome, which makes e-paper less like a display technology and more like a complex electrophysics device.
Because it is positioned as a true replacement for paper, customers expect e-paper to function in any application where paper would normally be used. This is in contrast to LED or LCD technology; displays constructed from these technologies will normally be qualified for use in a commercial temperature range of 0°C to +70°C. Some displays may be qualified for the more demanding industrial temperature range of -40°C to +85°C, but these will typically be more expensive, offer less opportunity for customisation and possibly require some environmental protection, such as larger enclosures.
By contrast, e-paper displays are often supplied to a custom format, which may include operating over an extended temperature range. Because e-paper is expected to operate 'like paper', customers are less inclined to make
compromises about operating conditions. The expectation is, rightly, that if paper can do it, then an e-paper display should be able to do it.
From this point of view, e-paper display suppliers must approach their design as a scalable, holistic solution that is able to operate under any of the environmental conditions paper could be exposed to. This immediately introduces significant demands on the materials and processes used. Pervasive Displays has many years of meeting these demands and has
advanced the science involved with making e-paper displays.
Read the full article in EPDT's March 2021 issue...
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