Interactive display in car dashboard

Optical Bonding

Silicone solutions from WACKER

Researchers at WACKER in Seoul have developed novel silicone gels that take optical bonding to a new level of quality.

The market and demand for optically bonded displays is growing at a furious pace. In smartphones, tablets, automobiles, machinery, medical, and outdoor applications, displays dominate our daily lives, acting as the crucial interface between us and technology. This makes it all the more important for us to be able to read the information on the display clearly, anytime and anywhere, without annoying reflections. The keyword here is optical bonding. WACKER is responding to surging demand for customer-friendly, safe and sustainable solutions by developing innovations based on silicone.

Optical Bonding – What Exactly Is It?

Optical bonding is a way of joining the touch screen of the display to the LCD module beneath it in such a way as to eliminate the air gap created between the layers during the production process. This air between the two layers causes the irksome reflections that occur in strong daylight and make the displays (e.g. LCDs and OLEDs) hard to read. This is not only inconvenient but, depending on where the display is being used, can also be a safety issue.

Optical Bonding from WACKER – the Silicone Solution

Silicones from WACKER – 70 years of experience from the world’s second-largest silicones producer. The material’s unique quality properties, such as heat resistance, cold resistance, UV resistance, flexibility, reliability and extreme durability, have proved to be a revelation in many areas of application and are also ideal for optical bonding.
Optical bonding solutions from WACKER are based on silicones that are custom-designed for use in all kinds of indoor and outdoor displays. A silicone gel creates an airtight seal between the two layers and eliminates a good two-thirds of all reflections. And it also protects the internal workings from dust and moisture while boosting the mechanical strength of the displays.

“Up until now, many manufacturers have not used an optical bonding material between the cover glass and the display. This results in an air gap with a different reflectance value, which negatively impacts the image quality. Since the layer of optical bonding material has a similar reflectance value to that of glass, it reduces reflections, which is important in automotive screens, for instance.”

– Mr. Lim, Global Business Development Manager

The Asian Growth Market

The Asian market offers enormous potential for our bonding solutions and is growing at a furious pace. Up until 2017, our activities in this segment were focused almost entirely on Europe. That has changed dramatically. Our market shares in Asia, which are currently at 20 percent, are growing.

One reason for this is developments in the automotive sector. Electromobility and autonomous driving have boosted demand for automotive displays tremendously, and this in turn has substantially raised expectations in terms of quality. Brightness, clear visibility and rugged solutions that can also withstand ambient temperatures are in demand.

Close to Customers, in Tune with the Market

South Korea is where the technology of tomorrow is being developed. All major electronics manufacturers have relocated their production and development facilities to this Asian tech hub where the future is being shaped. Opportunities abound, but so do challenges. Our customers need reliable silicone solutions that can be realized quickly. By establishing our own research and electronics development center in Seoul and the new production site for silicone elastomers in Jincheon, we have created the facilities and technical capability that will enable us to supply the region with sealants and high-performance silicones over the long term.

“Asian and German corporate cultures make a great combination for driving innovation. The Asian market focuses primarily on the customer and responds quickly to new developments. In Germany, the focus is more on an in-depth understanding of long-term solutions."

– Mr. Lim, Global Business Development Manager

Success Through Teamwork

Mr. Lim, Global Business Development Manager for Optical Bonding, and his dynamic young team are proud that the next breakthrough to further enhance optical bonding has been made in South Korea. For the graduate chemical engineer, this success was no coincidence: he values WACKER’s great innovative strength and farsightedness, and its focus on producing long-term, sustainable developments. This dovetails perfectly with the Asian mentality of finding solutions to customer requirements and needs fast.

“We already have a successful presence in the Asian markets through our bonding solutions – in fact, we are the market leader in optically clear resins (OCRs). And with the optically clear adhesive (OCA), we are embarking on a further innovative journey.”

WACKER Award For SeungA Lee And JungEun Lee

A magnificent achievement by the WACKER Excellence Team in Seoul: for developing an optically clear silicone resin (OCR) based on new, UV-curable silicone gels, SeungA Lee and JungEun Lee from the Center of Excellence Electronics (COEE) were honored in fall 2020 with the Alexander Wacker Innovation Award, ahead of 30 rival teams. The new silicone-based development stands out from conventional acrylic-based OCR applications by virtue of its stability and reliability.

Our customers' needs are always the driving force for technological progress. The same applies in this case: SeungA Lee and JungEun Lee collaborated closely and kept in direct contact with various customers from the electronics industry to develop solutions that are a perfect fit for all kinds of applications. Bonding companies, machinery makers as well as display designers play an integral role in the process of improving the properties of the silicone gels and optimizing them for further processing.

Focus on Global Opportunities

For WACKER Korea and the innovative developments they introduce, the nearby Chinese and Japanese markets offer huge growth potential. Close communication with the colleagues from China and Japan is crucial to responding rapidly to changing market situations.

“Geographically, Korea is close to Japan and China, both of which have a large, innovative sector. Korea sees an opportunity to grow in these markets too.”

– Mr. Lim, Global Business Development Manager

Mr. Lim has been the Global Business Development Manager for Optical Bonding since May 1st, 2021. In another efford to promote Wacker Chemicals Korea's expertise on the subject, the company established an Optical Bonding Competence Center led by SeungA Lee, who received the Alexander Wacker Innovation Award in fall of 2020. This development enables WCK to expand their business further and strengthen their leadership in the market.

Ready For The Future

Optical bonding with silicones – that is the future. Silicones are reliable, durable and cover a broad spectrum of uses. Further opportunities are to be found in new technologies, such as smart windows and new display form factors like foldable smartphones.

Further Information