MATERIALS: PC Film Offers Exceptional Formability,

Reportedly outperforms alternatives for complex thermoforming applications.

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A new transparent, conductive PC film from Houston-based SABIC is said to represent a completely new class of display materials with outstanding transmittance and resistance, especially in large formats, with exceptional 2.5 and 3D formability. The film combines Sante nanoparticle technology from China’s Cima NanoTech (U.S. office in Oakdale, Minn.) over a substrate of SABIC’s Lexan PC film to achieve highly-sensitive touch screens that are also impact resistant and formable. In addition to its potential performance capabilities in large format displays, this film can be thermoformed into complex 2.5 and 3D shapes, such as those required for various displays in consumer electronics, automotive interiors, and healthcare devices, as well as for architectural uses.

Alan Tsai, SABIC’s director of technology & innovation for display & electronics, says this new film technology has definite advantages over alternatives, such as indium tin oxide (ITO)-based laminates over a glass substrate and conductive PET. “First, our transparent, conductive PC solution is more sensitive, which can bring the response times of small-size touchscreens to large-format touchscreens. The material is capable of 20 ohm/m2 (compared to ITO at >100 ohm/m2) and in fact, SABIC has created a 55-in. demonstration touchscreen display that delivers real-time response,” he states. Also, the conductive PC film—available in gauges from 800 micrometers to 125 micrometers—provides significant weight savings, which can support thin-wall designs. The formability of the new film is also key; whereas ITO’s brittle nature results in it cracking when flexed, preventing the operation of the touchscreen.

What's more, PET conductive films reportedlyhave lower conductivity compared with SABIC’s conductive PC film, and lack the rigidity and impact resistance of PC, creating challenges when attempting to achieve large-format displays. PET films also exhibit only average formability, as PET cannot withstand the higher temperatures needed to thermoform the material into complex designs, states SABIC. A case in point is center display stack (CSD) for automotive interiors, which typically include touchscreens for navigation, infotainment features, and backup cameras as well as an area for climate control. With advanced materials such as transparent, conductive PC, there in now opportunity to create an integrated CSD design to consolidate these controls in one unit. 

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