John Busch is a 25-year veteran of vacuum equipment and thin film technology, currently serving as General Manager of the Display PVD Group for Applied Materials. Prior to this role, Mr. Busch served as General Manager of Applied’s Roll-to-Roll Product Group and Strategic Programs & Marketing Manager for the Solar Business Group. Mr. Busch has also held positions driving new product introductions for the disk drive and semiconductor markets.
Last month, Applied Materials hosted a touch screen panel (TSP) workshop in Germany near the company’s Alzenau technology and development center. The objective was to bring together experts in academia, customers and suppliers from around the world to discuss the materials, tool and technology innovations needed to drive growth for the TSP market.
Just this year, we have seen a virtual explosion of touch panel growth fueled by the world’s seemingly insatiable appetite for touch-enabled devices. It is hard to say whether this growth will be tempered or continue amidst the promise of even greater adoption of mobility devices and invention of new “must have” products. In either case, touch technology is now a permanent member of the flat panel display family.
I marvel at how the industry has evolved over the past few years. Three years ago, I had the opportunity to take a position as Head of our Web Products Group in Germany (the group that makes our roll-to-roll vacuum deposition tools). At that time we strengthened our focus on Flexible Electronics, looking at opportunities in flexible solar, displays, printed circuit boards and several different transparent conductor-based applications including touch screen elements. Ironically, the team had already been addressing this market for years, with sales of roll-to-roll sputtering tools for indium tin oxide (ITO) since the early 1980s, but it had remained relatively small and stable due to modest annual growth in resistive touch technology.
It seems that even the most basic things in life are becoming more sophisticated, but this is not always a bad thing. Food packaging, which we often take for granted, today is a much more “engineered” product than most people imagine. After all, the name of the game is to preserve food freshness while simultaneously heightening our desire to buy that particular product from myriad other choices on the shelf.
In some countries, such as Japan, consumers don’t want flowery packaging, but rather the ability to see the food itself, unhindered by printed text, color schemes or even the barrier films that protect it. Solution: clear barrier packaging that preserve freshness while enabling consumers to see directly through it.