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Lights out for Japanese TFT Manufacture

Richard Applin


Halo Logo H ONLY
Japanese TFT

By Richard Applin.

Once renowned for high quality display manufacture, and logevity of supply, Japan's TFT Module Producers have struggled to maintain a foothold globally.

In the decades leading up to 2022, Japan was pivotal in TFT manufacture. Hitachi, NEC, Toshiba, Sharp, Mitsubishi, Optrex, Kyocera, Seiko, Ortustech, all prominent brands, known for longevity of supply, high quality optics and trusted as the best sources for high end long term OEM design.

Just what happened? Only Kyocera TFT remains, all the other brands have been acquired or closed entirely, with Ortustech and Mitsubishi withdrawing in 2022.

NEC, having began LCD production in 1990, ultimately merged into Tianma Microelectronics Group, under the NLT brand by 2014. Tianma operates globally but is a Chinese OEM, with significant resources and revenue.

Focusing next on Hitachi, In 2015 Kaohsiung Opto-Electronics (KOE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan Display Inc (JDI), was formed to continue the design, development and manufacture of TFT LCD display modules previously established by Hitachi. It will develop and produce TFT display modules for industrial and high reliability applications ongoing.

Toshiba and Sharp underwent drastic reorganisation, pivoting towards commercial display applications, largely abandoning Industrial TFT Module manufacture. In June 2020 Mitsubishi announced that: ''the company has decided to end the TFT-LCD modules production and terminate the business based on the consideration that the company is no longer able to maintain the products' competitiveness under the situation that the global competition involving the company's focusing segment of high display performance and high reliability expands and intensifies with significant falling in price.''

Finally TOPPAN ELECTRONICS ORTUSTECH announced in 2022/3 that they were exiting the market for TFT, and offered clients a window for last time buying.

Japan TFT

What does this mean for HMI Design globally?

Quite simply, it appears that the mainstream established, legacy TFT Module producers in Japan have struggled to remain competitive. Taiwan and China caught up, and high quality IPS Optics, commonly seen throughout the consumer sphere in Tablet and Smart Phone technology, has now been adapted for Industrial TFT design.

Industrial Display design has a tendency to lag behind the tech curve seen in consumer markets, but over a period of years we see adoption and evolution to match consumer grade optics.

In fact, Halo's IPS TFT, especially the ultra high bright and high contrast modules, would be difficult to distinguish in a side by side comparison with Japan's best TFT technology.

The future for now, lies firmly in China, with a reported 2-3K TFT modularisers in Shenzhen alone, Taiwan is increasingly struggling to maintain market share, and justify higher price tags for their Industrial TFT modules.

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