Displays built out of plastic instead of glass would be a gadget lover’s dream: they’d be rugged and lightweight, and they should be inexpensive to make on "roll-to-roll" systems similar to those used for newsprint.But to develop prototypes for flexible tablet computers and othergadgets with plastic displays, the device makers have had to developcustom equipment. That could slow the arrival of flexible displays inthe market and keep their prices high.
Applied Materials is trying to solve this problem–and get an earlyfoothold in a potentially huge market–by standardizing equipment thatmakes flexible displays. The company, the world’s dominant maker ofequipment for manufacturing computer chips and liquid-crystal displays,is developing a process that could print flexible transistor arrays that perform just as well as those on rigid substrates. That would berequired if flexible displays are to be viable.
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