New advanced processing technologies promise displays in almost any shape

By Gina Roos, editor-in-chief

Tianma Europe GmbH will showcase new touch-display prototypes and process technologies at
electronica 2018 that will enable designers and developers to design displays
in almost any shape. These ‘free-form’ displays are well suited for consumer
devices including wearables, and industrial and medical applications that call
for ergonomically-shaped products.

“With the introduction of electronics into a growing
number of areas of daily life, the demand for innovative interaction
possibilities between human and machine has also been growing,” said Tianma. “The touch display has largely established itself as an intuitive medium. But
not every display has to be rectangular.”

Tianma said by solving several manufacturing process
challenges it has been able to manufacture touch displays in various shapes.
These include Virtual Gate Inline Pixel Array (VGIA) technology and
laser-assisted material processing.

An example prototype is a round display with a hole in
the middle, which was achieved by using VGIA technology. “Until now, it has been difficult to create
comparable shapes because of the matrix-shaped arrangement of the pixel
elements required,” said Tianma. “With individually embedded gate drivers as a VGIA,
the desired degrees of design freedom are achieved when designing the display.”


Another advance is laser-assisted material processing that
offers the potential for high-precision cuts in the 100-micrometer range. By
using this process, very fine holes can be created using gentle laser ablation,
enabling classic and analog clock hands in combination with a background
display, said the company. Applications range from smartwatches to automotive
cockpit instrumentation.

A prototype illustrating the technique is a display
with a 5-inch (12.7 cm) diameter and a slim concentric edge of 3 mm. This was
achieved by using a special oxide semiconductor material as the active TFT backplane,
which offers much higher electron mobility compared to conventional amorphous
silicon, said Tianma.

In addition, smaller pixel structures, as well as more
compact driver circuits can be achieved while maintaining the same level of
current. The driver circuits can be housed at the edge of the screen or
arranged in the active display area to save space. Other display features include a 2.1-mm thickness, a
resolution of 1080 x 1080 pixels and a high contrast ratio of 1,000,00:1.

In addition to custom designs, Tianma plans to offer a
range of standard display models. Displays will be showcased at electronica in
Hall B4, stand 231.