E Ink Holdings Inc (元太科技), the world’s biggest e-paper display supplier, has become a strategic investor in Plastic Logic HK to develop flexible electrophoretic displays (EPDs) for wearable applications.
E Ink made the announcement on Wednesday in a statement which did not disclose the size of the investment.
Jih Sun Securities Investment Consulting Co (日盛投顧) said in a note on Thursday that, based on its information, E Ink would invest less than US$5 million in the fabless designer and manufacturer of flexible, glass-free EPDs to deepen their technical cooperation, but would not participate in Plastic Logic’s operations.
Formed by Russian state-run tech company Rusnano, Plastic Logic has been focused on organic TFT technology for nearly 10 years. The technology offers lightweight and robust backplane solutions for wearable devices.
E Ink’s major product line is e-paper, and the company delivers its products mostly as displays, which are modules consisting of e-paper, integrated circuits, touch modules and other components.
The company’s e-paper display-related end-market applications include e-readers, electronic shelf labels and notebooks.
From January to last month, the company reported cumulative revenue of NT$5.09 billion (US$160.2 million), up 5.93 percent from NT$4.51 billion a year earlier, thanks to robust demand for electronic shelf labels and a steady royalty income.
“With the advancement of E Ink’s materials, such as three-color e-paper materials and advanced color e-paper, the combination of color e-paper and organic TFT technology can be an attractive display solution for many wearable device manufacturers,” E Ink president Johnson Lee (李政昊) said in the statement.
“E Ink supports its ecosystem partners, including Plastic Logic, to help enlarge the market for e-paper applications to facilitate the vision of E Ink making every surface smart,” he said
Jih Sun said E Ink is using flexible e-paper displays in electronic notebooks, but the yield rate of the displays still has room for improvement.
The company’s strategic investment in Plastic Logic would enhance its development of flexible electrophoretic displays, the investment consultancy said.
Plastic Logic chief executive officer Tim Burne said in the statement that the company is the only one in the industry that can mass-produce organic TFT backplanes for electronic paper displays, and the partnership with E Ink would help it complete the last stage of transition to a fabless EPD business.
“Plastic Logic HK will be leveraging E Ink’s supply chain and module facility to improve the cost structure of Plastic Logic’s organic e-paper display module,” Burne said.
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