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Posted: September 16, 2008

Next-generation production line for flexible, liquid crystal display technology

(Nanowerk News) Kent Displays Inc. (KDI), a Kent State University partner, yesterday took delivery of a roll-to-roll production line which enables the manufacture of flexible displays, representing a significant change in the way liquid crystals will be used in everyday products. This production line, the first of its kind in the world, will increase the supply of flexible, low-power displays for unique product applications such as credit cards, curved surfaces, product tags, and other ePaper applications.
Currently, a vast majority of all liquid crystal displays in the market are cut from large sheets of glass and are processed separately.
This revolutionary roll-to-roll production line enables Kent Displays to efficiently and rapidly produce large quantities of flexible LCDs.
The production line unwinds a roll of coated plastic film and performs the necessary process steps to effectively convert the roll of film to a finished liquid crystal display assembly. It will be housed in a climate controlled ISO Class 7 cleanroom. The production line was built in the U.S. to Kent Display's specifications and has gone through several levels of testing to validate its design and operation.
"This is a giant leap forward in the process of producing flexible liquid crystal displays," says Dr. Albert Green, chief executive officer of KDI.
"The process of taking this technology to the next level is long and demanding," says Green. "We could not have reached this goal without the support of Bill Manning of Manning Ventures who has never lost sight of the vision that we have for this company and has given us the ability to sustain through difficult transitions."
Green adds, "an integral part of our success is the direct result of collaboration between our company and those that have supported our efforts along the way…partners like the Third Frontier Project, Kent State University, NorTech and the FLEXMatters initiative have contributed to the research and development of this production line."
Kent Displays began licensing technology developed at Kent State University in 1993 and since then has worked closely with researchers at the Liquid Crystal Institute to advance the state of the technology.
"The completion of this production line," comments Dr. John West, vice president for research at Kent State University, "is a milestone for Kent Displays and Kent State University that has the potential to put us at the forefront of display manufacturing." A ribbon-cutting celebration for the production line is scheduled for late October.
About KDI
Kent Displays was founded in 1993 by Dr. J. William Doane, director emeritus of Kent State University's Liquid Crystal Institute (LCI) and William Manning of Manning Ventures, Rochester, N.Y. Using a strong foundation upheld by in-depth research and development, Kent Displays is a leader in developing Reflex™ displays that have been successfully licensed to corporations worldwide. Engineers at Kent Displays create applications for portable devices that are thin, flexible, rugged, demand long battery life, have wide viewing angles and paper-like viewing in all ambient lighting conditions including bright sunlight. KDI offers a line of customizable electronic skins for mobile computing devices, and electronic writing tablets (eTablet™) for many markets.
Partnership Information
The outstanding success for KDI has been built over several years and includes contributions from these organizations.
  • Third Frontier Project - In 2006, KDI was awarded a $7.9M dollar Research and Commercialization Project (RCP) grant by the State of Ohio's Third Frontier Project. The RCP Program was designed by the Ohio Department of Development to support technology-based economic development through research and commercialization activities in Ohio.
  • Kent State University - KDI is a spin-off business from Kent State University and was created to further develop and commercialize the Cholesteric Liquid Crystal Display (Reflex™) technology developed at Kent State University's Liquid Crystal Institute. Today, Kent State researchers from the LCI and KDI engineers work closely together to develop the LCD technology of the future.
  • Northeast Ohio Technology Coalition (NorTech) - leads the region's technology-based economic development agenda. By supporting and nurturing Northeast Ohio's most promising technology projects and initiatives, the organization helps to create new technology industries and makes the region's economy more globally-competitive.
  • FLEXMatters initiative – a Kent State initiative to build an industrial cluster for the manufacture of flexible displays and electronic devices. Northeast Ohio's strong industrial base in plastics and printing, and leading research strengths in liquid crystals, polymers and engineering make it the logical home for this emerging industry.
  • Manning Ventures – is a Rochester, New York-based venture capital fund. Privately held by William Manning, Manning Ventures invests in technology enterprises. Established in 1993, Manning Ventures has active investments in several software-related businesses in Western New York as well as Kent Displays in Kent, Ohio.
  • Source: Kent State University