Realizing the world’s best inline extrusion mold pattern technology in a saturated market

[INQ. NO. 1508E25] Raygen was established in 1981 as a specialized manufacturer of Thin Film Transistor-Liquid Crystal Display (TFT-LCD) Back Lights supplied to LG Display and Samsung Electronics. As TFT-LCD cannot emit light by itself, it requires a Back Light Unit (BLU), and light guide plates are an essential component of the BLU. Since 1999, Raygen has developed light guide plates, the core components of TFT-LCD BLU, by combining precision mold technology with know-how in injection molding.

The company is supplying BLUs for TVs, monitors and notebook computers to LG Display and exporting light guide plates used in the BLU to Samsung Electronics, domestic BLU companies and the Chinese market. It has three operation divisions (Waegwan, DKC, and Anseong) at home alone and is experiencing stable growth by recording KRW 10 billion in annual sales by installing and operating a research center and establishing overseas subsidiary companies.

https://korean-electronics.com//inquiry The name of the company, Raygen, is a compound word formed from the words “ray” (light) and “gen” (generate), and it connotes a firm will to change itself at the speed of light and realize customer satisfaction for generations. When the company decided to develop the new technology, the domestic light guide plate market was saturated. As competition in the existing light guide plate market intensified in the wake of universalized technology, not only domestic companies but also firms in China and Taiwan proactively made inroads into the market and put pressure on prices.

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Raygen felt the need to gain a new competitive edge in the light guide plate industry. Meanwhile, venture companies were requested to differentiate technology for the purpose of acquiring a growth engine for new business and securing the power of decision on components. However, a lot of money was requested to develop one advanced technology in the component material industry.

Agonizing over what to do, Raygen found an opportunity in a public project to develop component material technology. The company realized that it needed to develop technologies that could not be easily imitated by others in order to gain a competitive edge in the market.

Raygen made a success in developing hybrid complex pattern extrusion light guide plates with high-intensity and organic light-emitting diodes by implementing roll stamping (HTPM) technology and inline extrusion pattern molding technology. Light guide plates are a core component of BLU, the light source of LCD, and it is a place facing the path of light. As the path of light can continue only when a medium changes, there is no change in path in the light guide plate.

At that time, light guide plate patterning technology made it possible for the light projected into a light guide plate through formation of a patterning medium to be scattered on the surface and visually detected toward the panel. As a result, the thickness of a light guide plate determines that of an LED TV, and the patterning technology that forms a medium has an effect on the image quality on the screen.

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Raygen decreased the thickness of existing light guide plates from 3mm to 2mm through the use of inline extrusion pattern molding technology and roll stamping patterning technology while realizing high intensity. The brightness of the LCD surface, referred to as luminance, is influenced by pitch, the interval between pixels, and higher intensity for clearer and brighter displays. Generally speaking, if the thickness of a light guide plate is decreased, luminance is reduced by 8%, but the inline extrusion pattern molding technology developed by Raygen enabled the domestic BLU market to catch two rabbits – high intensity and ultrathinness.

Man, Machine, Material and Method (4M) is cited as the reason for scattering in the course of manufacture. These four elements need to be thoroughly managed to manufacture quality products. However, the company faced difficulties in each and every process of production. The production of hybrid pattern extrusion light guide plates was dotted with a series of new attempts, from basic designing to manufacturing. A gap between an originally planned device and actual application to production lines resulted in a relapse into a previous process on a frequent basis, and problematic supply and demand made it necessary to visit various suppliers and set the case. The company was pressured to establish a new process within two years and develop the world’s most advanced technology.

However, the difficulties would not have been overcome without the help of hard-working researchers of Raygen. Although they had to do arduous jobs in a base light guide plate extrusion center where the room temperature was as high as 50°C and repeat the same process over and over again for two years, no one on the research team fell behind. Rather, in the course of exploring new processes and detecting new problems, they became more confident that they were the only ones who could make it a success. Perseverance and confidence in advanced technology on the part of the researchers eventually led to successful development.

Optical patterns are required to industrialize base light guide plates through the inline extrusion pattern molding technology. As for the patterning technology, an existing silkscreen method and a razor printing method were universally used, but Raygen implemented a more sophisticated patterning through a new process technology known as roll stamping. When the thickness of a light guide plate is decreased, pitch is relatively widened.

Accordingly, the pitch (line width) needs to be reduced as well when the thickness of a light guide plate is reduced. The company decreased the pitch of a light guide plate from 300μm to 70μm through the formation of roll stamping patterns. It broke the rule that a thinner panel inevitably results in an absence of luminance.

There is a saying that “Opportunity belongs to the person who prepares for it.” Raygen adopted a method for inducing investors and clients by establishing an independent technology, instead of developing technology with the help of investors and clients like other companies that take part in public projects. The company had that much confidence in its technology. For instance, when it developed the inline extrusion pattern molding technology for the first time in the world, LG Display and Samsung Electronics, to which Raygen supplied parts, gave it a love call after reading an article on the technology in Electronic Times. Raygen gained trust from consumers and companies with prepared technology instead of inducing funds based on an abstract vision or persuasion.

The Roll Stamping (HTPM) technology that Raygen developed in the course of a material component technology project has been successfully industrialized, and the company has delivered components and test products worth KRW 3.6 billion to LG Display. It also generated KRW 53 million worth of sales to Sharp in Japan and SDC in Samsung based on the inline extrusion pattern molding technology. The company is expected to create synergy in realizing thin, light and clear image quality through the combination with roll stamping technology in the future.

As more diverse industries have come to use back lights, the light guide plate industry is expected to play an active role not only in the display sector, including notebook computers and TVs, but also in the auto, ship, airplane and lighting sectors. As the LED lighting market is expected to record growth as high as 74.6% until 2015, it has a bright future in terms of increased demand. However, intensified competition in the industry and frequent changes in the display market pose a challenge to the company on a continual basis. Still, Raygen has a bold vision for securing a continuous growth engine in innovative materials and advanced light guide plate production in the TFT-LCD back light industry through the transition of existing PMMA extrusion resins into MS resins.

Since 1981, when Raygen achieved success in developing electro-molding technology for the first time in Korea, it has grown into a little giant equipped with three operation divisions in the component material industry over 30 years. It is the result of continuous efforts to explore new business areas and develop independent technologies despite ceaseless changes in the market and intensified price competition against overseas royalty technologies. The corporate philosophy on the development of human resources and technological competence on the part of Raygen are continuously evolving into the growth engines of the display industry for the future.

 
 
korean-electronics.com | Blog Magazine of korean electronics, brands and Goods

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