3D glass is a flat glass that is bent by cold grinding, hot melt pressing, and hot melt bending to form a curved surface on both sides of the flat glass, with some strengths of light and thin, transparent and clean, anti-fingerprint, anti-glare, and scratch-resistant.
The upper and middle reaches of the 3D glass industry chain are raw materials and main production equipment. The raw materials are mainly glass substrates, laminating materials, inks, and polishing powders. The production equipment includes automatic cutting machines, engraving machines, grinding machines, hot bending machines, and pressurizing. The midstream is processing and manufacturing; the downstream is composed of consumer electronics, mainly used in smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, and smartwatches. With its advantages of lightness, transparency and cleanliness, anti-fingerprint, anti-glare, and good weather resistance, 3D curved glass can not only enhance the novelty of smart terminal products, but also bring an excellent touch feel, which perfectly fits the requirements and development trends of consumer electronics. The downstream application areas of the 3D glass industry continue to expand.
Strong Growth in the Consumer Electronics Market Drives the Development Of 3D Glass
In 2019, it is reported that the shipments of smartphones in China were 372 million, wearable devices reached about 100 million, and VR headsets and tablet PCs shipped 2.5 million and 22.4 million, respectively. At present, the shipment volume of various electronic equipment in China is relatively large, and it is gradually extending from high-end products to mid-end products, which promotes the market demand for 3D glass to increase year by year. Data show that the 3D glass output of China has been growing from 2015 to 2019. In 2019, the 3D glass output was nearly 3.4 million square meters.
3D glass is mainly used for mobile phone cover, and the glass cover for mobile phones mainly includes 2D glass, 2.5D glass, and 3D glass. 2D glass is ordinary flat glass without any bending design; 2.5D glass is flat in the middle and curved at the edges. 3D glass has a strong sense of three-dimensionality, perfect surface adaptability, larger display area.
The application of 3D glass cover in smartphones makes the product look beautiful, full of sense of science and technology, also can avoid the signal shielding of the mobile phone, thus, 3D curved glass gradually replaces the metal case as the main material of the mobile phone cover to become the mainstream configuration of many high-end flagship models. From 2015 to 2019, the market penetration rate of mobile phone with 3D glass has continued to increase, from less than 1% in 2015 and to 32.5% in 2019.
In 2016, domestic smartphone shipments reached a peak of 522 million units. Since then, the domestic smartphone shipments have begun to decline. Shipments in 2017 and 2018 were 460 million and 390 million units, respectively. In 2019, the shipments have fallen to 372 million units, which were 47.736 million units in the first quarter of 2020.
Based on the above penetration rate of 3D glass in the smartphone field and smartphone shipments, it is estimated that the domestic demand for 3D mobile phone glass in 2019 was approximately 242 million pieces, which will continue to grow.
The reason why the market penetration and market demand of 3D glass have not declined with the slow growth of domestic mobile phone shipments is that 3D glass is an emerging product in the field of smartphones, in which the market has grown from scratch and the growth rate is naturally fast. However, after years of penetration of smartphones, the market has become saturated, thus the market for 3D glass mobile phones is highly competitive and the homogeneity of products is serious.
Wearable Devices Become the Next Driving Point For 3D Glass
With the advancement of science and technology and the arrival of the wave of intelligence, the smart wearable devices industry has been developing rapidly. According to the relevant data, the scale of wearable devices continues to grow rapidly. The global wearable device shipments increased from 24.67 million units in 2016 to 99.24 million units in 2019, with a compound growth rate of 42%, and there is a trend of accelerated growth. Assuming that the annual shipment of domestic wearable products will remain at about 100 million units in the future, with a penetration rate of 10%, the market demand for 3D glasses for wearable products is expected to be about 10 million pieces in the future.
On-Board Display Has Great Potential
With the trend of the Internet of Vehicles and intelligent driving, cars are no longer just used as traditional means of transportation, which gradually become intelligent mobile terminals integrating office, entertainment, and leisure. As the most important information dissemination carrier in-vehicle electronics, on-board displays will greatly benefit from the development of the automotive industry such as new energy vehicles, autonomous driving, and the Internet of Vehicles. At present, vehicle display equipment mainly includes a central control display and instrument display. The application of 3D glass realizes the combination of decorative surface and human-computer interaction function, which can not only reflect the sense of science and technology, but also fully satisfy consumers' demand for the coolness of car decoration.
Technology and Production Capacity Are Currently the Bottleneck for the Domestic 3D Glass Industry to Achieve Large-Scale Application
At present, many factors such as technology, capacity, and price restrict the large-scale application of 3D glass, in which there are a few companies that can produce 3D glass on a large scale and the industry is generally at the developing stage. Besides, as 3D glass processing technology is complicated, the current processing yield rate in the industry is less than 55%. However, with the rapid development of 3C products, the demand rate for 3D glass is increasing, and the product technology continues to improve and the yield rate will also increase.
The market penetration rate of the 3D glass industry in China is low, mainly used in high-end flagship phones of branded mobile phones, in which the overall application scale is still small. With the continuous improvement of the technical level of 3D glass products, its application cost will gradually drop, which will lay the foundation for its popular application.
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