One of the many interesting demonstrations at K 2013 in Düsseldorf, Germany next month will be a highly automated cell showing how indium tin oxide foils can be replaced in LCD screens for consumer electronics devices.
Indium prices have been in the $382/kg to $918/kg range in recent years. That compares to under $100/kg 10 or so years ago.
A Sumitomo Demag (210 metric ton clamping force) will produce a five-inch display using functional PET-based coating foils developed by PolyIC, part of the Kurz Group based in Fuerth, Germany.The foils are spray-coated with PMMA in the Inmold Labeling (IML) process. A narrow frame, which is also injected, is simultaneously decorated using Inmold Decoration (IMD) in black piano lacquer finish.
Production from the insertion of the IML foil in the tool cavity, to the last of the multiple steps necessary for the post-processing, to the finishing of the display takes place in a Class 7 cleanroom.
A suspended six-axis robot takes one conductive Inmold label from a stack and positions it onto the solid half of a single-cavity mold. At the same time, the IMD forward travelling instrument, fitted on the closing side above the moving mold half, positions a carrier foil with individual images for decorative coating of the molded part space into the cavity. After closing the mold, the display is injection molded in PMMA. Injected weight is 25 g.
After the robot removes an injected display frame and inserts a new label, it places the piece on a workpiece carrier. Then the piece moves to a sealed laser separation station where a CO2 laser with extraction system removes it from the film gate. Finally, the robot transfers the display to a UV-curing unit to harden the covering topcoat lacquer.