Prise winners list

Super-large, super-slim screen with low power consumption Development of technology for film-type display

Kobe-City, Hyogo Prefecture
Shinoda Plasma Co., Ltd.
Other award winners
Manabu Ishimoto, Masao Inoue, koji Shinohe, Masayuki Shibachi, Yoshio Shibukawa, Hitoshi Hirakawa, Tetsuya Makino, Yosuke Yamazaki, Mitsugu Wakatsuki
Recommended by
Kobe-City, Hyogo Prefecture
XXXXXXXXX

Awamoto, Kenji  (49)
Director

Because we believe our instinct saying it can work, we can surprise and excite people. A super-large screen which covers human field of vision has been realized
summary

Screens have become increasingly larger and thinner in recent years and power consumption has increased, accordingly. In addition, the large size of their production facilities and the amount of power consumed by manufacturing them have also become problematic. Shinoda Plasma Co., Ltd. has developed a new technology, called PTA (Plasma Tubes Array) to overcome these issues. The company has commercialized a super-large screen with a film-type display, bigger than the 100 model, with its display part being only 1mm thin and able to attach to a curved surface, for the first time. Compared with a conventional thin screen, it is one fifth the thinness, one tenth the weight, and one third the power consumption. It doesn't require investment in a large production facility, either. As a super-large screen can be installed just by assembling its 1-meter-square sub-modules on which the plasma tubes are aligned, it can be carried easily and can be set up anywhere. In November 2009, "SHiPLA," a 145-inch display, was first delivered to Akashi Municipal Planetarium in Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture. It is attracting more and more attention as the next-generation digital signage.

summary

Took a chance of the future of imaging with a tube, 1mm in diameter From withdrawal from business to establishment of a new company

Although it is a super-large screen, 145 inches wide, its display part weighs only 7.2kg. It requires so little electricity that it can be used with any home power supply, but still it boasts a high quality of image. It is the new technology called Plasma Tubes Array (PTA) that has made these features possible. The components of the emission structure are sealed in a glass tube of one-meter diameter, so that each grass tube radiates red, green, or blue, light's three primary colors, by fluorescent substance. Three tubes with different colors are combined to make a plasma tube. Many plasma tubes are placed in an array and sandwiched by two electrode sheets, made of a thin film, which supply power for light emission. One sheet comes to one square meter. If many such sheets are assembled outdoors, on site, a super-large screen plasma display is completed. The screen is 1mm thin and can be attached to even a curved surface. Although the principle of light emission is the same as the traditional plasma display, the technology to make it of practical use is entirely new.    

With the theme of development of a next-generation, super-large display, their research started in 1998 at Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd, where an engineer was working, who was later called "the father of plasma display."

Mr. Awamoto says with a smile, "He was Shinoda, the current Chairman and President of our company. In 2001, Shinoda was promoted to fellow and became eligible to have his own laboratory. He started to gather people. Ishimoto and I joined. Shinoda and Ishimoto worked as the core and I helped them from behind the scenes. At that time, we were a team of only three." Mr. Awamoto's specialty is drive circuits.

After they continued research and development in a step-by-step fashion for three years, they shifted their focus to looking for possibilities for practical use and commercialization and they geared up to full-scale operation. They recruited members from various departments, so called, internal head hunting.

They reached a turning point in the spring of 2005, when Fujitsu announced withdrawal from the display business. Mr. Awamoto says, "It happened when we finally had a good prospect for practical use. It would have been very wasteful if we had stopped the research. We had to make a choice between leaving Fujitsu Laboratories to continue our research or staying at Fujitsu Laboratories."

Some said that all employees would move to other companies with each fellow's laboratory, but their conclusion was to create a company.

"We didn't try to think very seriously," Mr. Awamoto said smiling, "When we started thinking, we came up with only risks. But still, from the prototype stage, we had an instinct that we could make it."

Six researchers from the laboratory decided to make a new company. Mr. Awamoto spent day and night preparing for the setup of the new company and helping other members look for next jobs.

Unified all processes from research and development up to manufacturing and management within the company.

The opening of their new company was delayed by the earthquake building code scandal, however, they completed the transfer procedure in 2007 and created a system in which they could consistently manage processes from R&D up to production.

Mr. Awamoto says, "We established a manufacturing factory within our premises. Regardless of development or manufacturing, all processes have something we cannot give up. If we place some process at a remote place, it would eventually cause a valley of death." 

This is the environment which has realized the idea and style of Shinoda, who continued research together with the manufacturing staff from factories when he worked for Fujitsu, and has completed the full-color plasma display.

Mr. Awamoto explained, "The manufacturing department realizes what the R&D department creates. During the process, we also have to verify if quality is stable. When we started full-scale operations for commercialization of our product, our theme was to achieve long life and good appearance of the product. In a word, it was to achieve a shape which people can use and we can sell. To clear up these issues, we took two years."

Being given your own laboratory doesn't mean your product will go to market soon. Even though their technology was based on existing technology, their idea required new technology that the world had never seen. It was inevitable that they had to own all the processes from R&D and production up to the quality assurance, as well as to establish close relationships among them.

He says, "From the beginning, our objective was to display life-size images. The product we delivered to Akashi Municipal Planetarium last autumn was "SHiPLA," 145 inches wide. Next, we will aim at a 200- to 300-inch screen." 

"SHiPLA" is the brand name of their product. Their thin display achieved the ultimate form, which is made from film, ten years after development. It is able to display on a curved surface or an overhead setup, which usual large-size displays cannot do, so it also stimulates the imagination of the users. It contains possibilities for a variety of new uses of images which one may not expect from usual kinds of big screen. The dreams of Mr. Awamoto and his teammates as well as the future of imaging applications are fully packed into the 1mm-diatemter glass tube.

Shinoda Plasma Co., Ltd.

http://www.shi-pla.jp/

Established:
Jun. 2005
Capital:
144.2 million yen
Employees:
60 (as of Dec. 2009)
Brief information:
A venture business, with the policy "Technology is love," attempting to enter the world market with its next-generation, ultra-large, screen display technology, "Plasma Tubes Array"

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The flat display is only 1mm thick. Because of its film material, it can be displayed on a curved surface. A fluorescent substance, discharge protection film, and gas discharge are formed in a glass tube 1mm in diameter. Two one-meter-square electrode sheets hold 1000 glass tubes from both sides. This sub-module is assembled with many others to make an ultra-large screen.

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Testing to improve the product is conducted many times in their building where research offices and factories are unified, to seek to create an even higher-quality product.

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