LONGMONT, Colo. Displaytech Inc., a maker of miniature LCDs, announced Monday (March 29) that it has snagged Miyota Co. Ltd. as a strategic manufacturing partner, forming a relationship that will help crank up the international supply of mini-LCDs. The companies clearly have their eye on consumer electronics, especially virtual displays for cell phones and digital cameras and projection displays for large computer monitors and TVs.
Miyota (Nagano, Japan) is a high-volume component manufacturer whose stable of products includes backlights, CCD camera modules, crystal-quartz oscillators and the ultracompact CRTs used as viewfinders in camcorders. It is also the leading worldwide supplier of the miniature quartz tuning forks used in watches and clocks.
Displaytech (Longmont, Colo.), a specialist in ferroelectric liquid-crystal materials, founded in 1985, announced its entry into miniature displays in 1996 and fielded its first devices in early 1997. Unlike most other minidisplay developers, which are pursuing a fabless business model, Displaytech has emphasized in-house manufacturing, though it outsources the CMOS "silicon backplanes" of its Lightcaster displays to established foundries. The company expanded its manufacturing facility by 18,000 square feet to 48,000 square feet last May.
The Miyota connection is the second major relationship forged by Displaytech, following an alliance announced in November with the Component Group of Hewlett-Packard Co. Initially one of Displaytech's silicon suppliers, HP has become a partner for product definition, design, marketing and sales, particularly in consumer electronics. Launching a Microdisplay Products Operation under the Components Group for the ferro-LCD effort, HP has also taken over responsibility for designing controller chips for Displaytech LCDs.
Under the terms of the new agreement, "Miyota will execute all manufacturing phases of Displaytech's microdisplays at its factory in Nagano, Japan," said Haviland Wright, chief executive officer of Displaytech.
"Miyota has committed to a manufacturing schedule to satisfy the burgeoning demands of OEMs integrating microdisplays for consumer-electronics products," he said. "With this agreement, Displaytech accelerates its volume manufacturing program, enhances its production capacity and strengthens the quality of its ferroelectric LCD products by tapping Japanese expertise in liquid-crystal production."
Wright cited "Miyota's established reputation for producing large volumes of high-precision, high-yield miniature components" as making it an apt manufacturing partner.
Miyota already has staff in residence at Displaytech's headquarters in Longmont "to produce an optimized microdisplay manufacturing line that will provide the basis for panel production in Japan," said Wright.
Eiji Kawakami, president of Miyota, said the company is "extremely delighted to carry forward this manufacturing alliance." Miyota believes that Displaytech's "unique microdisplay technology" will become "the mainstream of a new-generation display device," he said.
"I believe our IC packaging, display, precision-process, vacuum and clean technologies [will] contribute toward establishing highly efficient manufacturing of the microdisplay," said Kawakami.
Yoritake Oya, managing director and general manager of Miyota's Electronics Device Division, said, "We are determined to turn this into a main business for Miyota by establishing a complete manufacturing line for Displaytech's microdisplays."