TOKYO -- Japan's Toppan Printing and Taiwan's E Ink Holdings have jointly developed the world's largest full-color, flexible "electronic paper" display, Toppan said Wednesday.
The companies plan to market the 32-inch e-paper -- featuring very low power consumption, light weight and paper-like readability -- by the end of 2017, after working out mass production technology, the company said.
The largest full-color, flexible e-paper previously was about 14 inches.
The flexibility of the 0.4mm-thin screen -- composed of a plastic panel made by E Ink, a key global e-paper developer, and layered with Toppan's color filter over it -- makes it possible to apply it to curved surfaces, such as a round column.
Plastic panels give flexibility to e-paper but easily shrink or expand as temperatures change. This presents a production challenge in ensuring a uniform image quality across a large area, as it is difficult to form an even color filter layer.
Toppan said it not only overcame this issue with its new filter technology, but also succeeded in creating more vivid, bright colors than its previous technology could.
E-paper has typically been used in price displays on store shelves and electronic book screens, but the companies are contemplating new applications for the product, to be priced at several hundred thousand yen (several thousand dollars).
These will include disaster-related uses, where the panels' very low energy consumption feature comes in handy due to the major risk of power outages. The companies are contemplating, for example, a public disaster information board that can run for an extended period on auxiliary power sources such as dry batteries or solar cells.
They are also seeking to devise new applications for the financial industry and for traffic control.