Dai Nippon Printing (DNP) has announced a new type of durable plastic sheet that the company believes will replace the chemically-hardened glass panels currently used by smartphones and tablets. With a pencil hardness of up to 9H, the new plastic cover is said to be about as strong as Gorilla Glass, yet it offers many additional benefits.
The product -- which doesn't seem to have a name yet -- is comprised of three parts: a fingerprint-proof layer on the outside, a piece of plastic in the middle and a hardening agent applied to the back. All told, the substrate measures from 0.5mm to 1.5mm thick depending on what's needed and weighs about half as much as glass solutions.
Along with its 9H pencil hardness, DNP's cover is highly abrasion resistant. The company says that it rubbed the sheet's surface 200 times at a weight of 500g/cm2 with steel wool and no scratches resulted. Given those results, DNP says that its plastic offering is much less likely to scratch or crack than alternative glass-based products.
Besides conventional smartphones, tablets, laptops and other electronics, DNP notes that its plastic substrate would be ideal for upcoming flexible electronics using an OLED display, as sheets measuring 1.0mm thick can bend to a diameter of up to 140mm, while that number jumps to 90mm when dealing with 0.5mm-thick sheets.
The company's clarity tests showed a haze of 0.4% and a transmittance of 91.2%, while its fingerprint test revealed a contact angle of 103 degrees for water and 56 degrees for oil. We can't quantify those figures, but DNP is confident enough to project roughly $121 million in revenue for 2014 after the sheets hit mass production next year.