For Digital Display Manufacturers: A Primer on Reflective LCD Technology

In today’s highly-connected digital age, one of the main challenges confronting digital display manufacturers is how to manufacture solutions that would offer high contrast ratio and readability in bright sunlight. Especially, if the display is meant for outdoor deployment, it’s an all-too important design goal that must be met by them.

Reflective LCD technology, as such,offers the solution with easy to read displays that work quite well outdoors. Primarily utilized in manufacturing e-readers and mobile devices, the technology also presents an attractive proposition in the design of commercial signages.

This article will provide you an understanding of the working principles of reflective LCD technology and its use in large format public signages.

How reflective LCD technology works

 The arrangement of a standard LCD panel

Before you can understand how reflective LCD technology works, it helps to know the arrangement of a standard transmissive LCD panel. So, here’s a quick brief:

A standard LCD panel has a backlight that serves to illuminate the display. In front of the backlight is the rear polarizer (also called horizontal polarizer) that polarizes the light waves coming from the backlight in a horizontal plane of orientation. The rear polarizer is then followed by the LC layer, a set of transparent electrodes, color filters, a front polarizer (also called vertical polarizer) and finally the glass screen in that very order.
This the basic arrangement, and these are the basic components of a standard transmissive LCD display.

The arrangement of a reflective LCD panel

When we talk about reflective LCD displays, the arrangement is mostly the same as transmissive LCD displays. However, there is one major exclusion (and inclusion): reflectiveLCD panels don’t have a backlight; instead, they have a reflector.

Unlike transmissive LCD technology, reflective LCD technology does not rely on a backlight as the light source to illuminate the display. In contrast, it uses ambient light as the light source which travels all the way through the glass screen to the back of the panel, where it’s reflected off by the reflector, thereby exposing the LC layer, switching the pixels and producing an image on the screen.

How does this design change give reflective LCD panels an edge over transmissive LCD panels in outdoor applications?

It does so, by reducing the glare from displays that otherwise affect the performance of LCD panels that are powered by backlights.

Another benefit of employing reflective LCD technology in the design of outdoor digital signages is that,it allows manufacturers to produce units that cost less and consume less power compared to transmissive LCD displays.

The low power consumption needs, and the cheap manufacturing cost of reflective LCD panels can be explained by the absence of backlight in their design.

It’s worth noting here that reflective LCD displays perform poorly in indoor settings. And so, they’re not a viable solution for indoor display applications.

Reflective LCD technology in large format public displays

The market outlook

Currently, e-book readers and mobile devices have almost 75 percent of the reflective LCD display market share.

Digital signages are in second in the utilization of the technology. However, as more digital display manufacturers realize the benefits of employing the technology for outdoor applications, one can certainly expect reflective LCD digital signages to become more common in the future. In fact, experts predict that by 2020, the global market share for reflective LCD commercial signages will reach 0.78 billion.

Do you have any question that you would like to ask about reflective LCD panels? Feel free to reach out; REVO will be happy to help you.

About REVO

REVO is a global supplier of high-performing industrial display solutions. The company works with OEMs and contract manufacturers, providing them with high quality displays for their specialty design needs. For more details, please call 1-866-738-6797 or visit the company’s official website.

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