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Despite the fact that 3D TV has not grown as fast as many in the industry expected, the penetration rate is still growing steadily. Nearly 30% of LCD TV panels shipped in 2013 will be 3D-capable, according to NPD DisplaySearch, and that growth is pushing competition among vendors, and increased rivalry in film technologies.

Yoonsung Chung, director of large-area displays and FPD Materials Research for NPD DisplaySearch, noted that as 3D TV continues to grow, competition between the main two 3D technologies is heating up. Film patterned retarder (FPR) is finally catching up to the more established shutter glass approach.

According to the NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Display Optical Film Report, demand for 3D FPR is forecast to grow 104% year-on-year and reach 34 million units in 2013.

"3D PR film reportedly minimises eye fatigue, and demand for 3D PR is growing at a much faster pace. It is forecast to account for 48% of total 3D TV panel shipments in 2013, up from 39% in 2011," Chung said.

LG Chemical has led in 3D PR film shipments for nine consecutive quarters, accounting for 96% of global shipments in Q3'12. LG Display was the dominant producer of 3D PR panels for TVs and the only supplier of 3D PR monitor and notebook panels in 2012. LG Chemical supplies 3D PR panels to AUO and BOE. However, DNP is also competing in the 3D PR film market and took a 20% share of LG Display's 3D PR film demand for TV panels in the third quarter of 2012.

Chung added, "The competition among 3D PR film manufacturers is expected to intensify as film manufacturers look to compete. Chinese panel makers such as CEC-Panda and China Star are starting to produce 3D PR TV panels, and LG Display is expanding production of 60"+ panels in 2013 — potentially joined by Sharp. Demand for 3D PR film is anticipated to rise, which will draw in other film manufacturers as well."

Panel buyers, film makers, and product planners will need to closely follow the optical film technology and market trends to stay competitive, Ching added.

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