The JSR Group, which started as a specialized manufacturer of synthetic rubber, has contributed to the realization of “affluence” by boldly tackling the challenges of new fields from a materials perspective.
Below, we discuss liquid crystal display materials, a representative example of those undertakings.
Liquid crystal displays have become the mainstream for televisions and computer displays in recent years. Compared to cathode ray tube displays, which were once commonly used, liquid crystal displays are lighter and more compact, and as a result their share of the market is increasing. Approximately 90% of televisions sold in Japan are raw liquid crystal displays.
JSR has made continuous contributions to technological advances through the development and commercialization of specialized materials since the advent of liquid crystal displays.
The figure below shows the broad range of liquid crystal display materials that JSR currently produces and supplies. Many of these products are highly valued for their quality and boast top market shares in the industry.
Such products as coating materials that reduce the glare reflected from the surface of liquid crystal displays and color pigmented resists that produce the colors of liquid crystal displays are not directly visible to consumers, but they are all key materials essential for providing high-quality images.
One of the liquid crystal display materials that JSR provides is alignment films. Alignment films line up liquid crystal molecules in a single direction and are a key material that greatly affects display performance including the display contrast, reducing flickering and afterimages.
JSR began developing alignment films for liquid crystal displays in 1985 in response to requests from customers. The first products were launched in 1988. Since then, sales have been expanded in conjunction with the widespread use of LCD televisions, and JSR alignment films now boast the world’s highest market share.
According to Michinori Nishikawa, General Manager of the LCD Materials 2nd Laboratory at the JSR Display Materials Research Laboratories, which conducts research and development of alignment films, “The functions and specifications of alignment films demanded by customers vary greatly. Meeting those demands is the most challenging thing we do.” He also comments, “It is also necessary for us to respond to new functions and other demands such as the rapid increase in display sizes. We conduct research and make repeated improvements while paying close attention to customer needs.”
In addition, while there has been increasing demand recently for even higher picture quality such as 3D as well as energy-saving technologies, demand is also increasing for low-cost products aimed at markets in developing countries. Customer requirements are becoming increasingly diverse. “It is our role to provide solutions as a materials manufacturer in response to these developments. It is crucial that we constantly pay close attention to our customers,” explains Mr. Nishikawa. Responding precisely to customer needs is what breathes life into the spirit of JSR’s manufacturing.
As the production scale of liquid crystal displays has increased overseas in recent years, liquid crystal display material production and sales sites outside of Japan have also expanded. JSR began commercial production in South Korea in 2004 and in Taiwan in 2006. “By establishing local production sites overseas, we are able to quickly identify local needs and respond to them,” explains Hiroaki Nemoto, General Manager of the Display Materials Division.
We believe that this type of overseas business must also contribute to the development of local communities. In addition to economic contributions through the creation of jobs and other effects, we also work to build trusting relationships with local residents by cooperating with school events, holding exchange events, and participating in other similar activities. This attitude has been extremely well received, and in 2009 JSR Micro Taiwan, a group company, won an Industry Contribution Award from the Industrial Development Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taiwan.
Inside JSR Micro’s Taiwan Plant
Various avenues of research and development have also started with a view towards next-generation displays. One example would be liquid crystal displays with LEDs. Displays that use lowenvironmental impact LEDs in place of fluorescent tubes are attracting increasing attention as interest in environmental issues rises. Although practical applications have begun, further research and development on LED displays is needed concerning various materials including color pigmented resists, to raise quality and accelerate the pace of adoption.
In response, JSR launched the LUMILON™ series of new materials for LEDs in the spring of 2010. These materials facilitate the manufacture of high-performance LEDs using processes that are simpler than earlier processes. A grade that reduces environmental impact during the manufacture of LEDs is available, and it is expected that these materials will make significant contributions to the expanded use of LEDs for liquid crystal displays as well as in other fields.
Looking even further ahead, the very existence of displays will likely hold a very different position in the future. Mr. Nemoto says, “As in the case of electronic paper, practical applications of which have already begun, in the future, displays will be used in a wide variety of situations beyond televisions and PCs, and will become a presence with close links to every aspect of daily life. We hope to contribute to this through our materials.”
JSR contributes to the realization of an affluent society through the development of unique technologies and materials. JSR's stance will remain unchanged even in the future.
- The Need for Products with Specific Functions is the Origin of Manufacturing
The fundamental feature of JSR’s manufacturing is that it is user oriented. We strive to supply products that not only meet the needs of our direct customers such as manufacturers, but also respond to the needs of consumers who use the finished products. At the same time, as a manufacturer of intermediate materials, it is our responsibility to encourage the reduction of environmental impact during internal manufacturing as well as in the processes that create the end products. It is not easy to do both, but as can be seen with displays, one of our strengths is rising to the challenge of solving problems by providing multiple components for a single finished product from a broad perspective that takes into account the entire manufacturing process.
In the display segment, calls for even higher performance and completely new needs are certain to arise from time-to-time. In order to make significant contributions to meeting these needs through specialized materials, we will make full use of our strengths and continue research and development by breaking free from traditional conventions.