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Flat screens boost JacoTech

By: Rhoda Miel

August 10, 2012

NORTH BROOK, ILL. (Aug. 10, 2:40 p.m. ET) — The growing business in ultra-thin televisions is bringing increased interest in an Illinois producer of engraved cylinder molds.

Jacobsen Lenticular Tool & Cylinder Engraving Technologies Co. is one of a few independent producers of the specialized cylindrical molds used to produce the film for the optical plastics industry. Its parts have been used in to make three-dimensional signs, orbital telescopes, in military applications and very thin, very light monitors and TVs.

“There are other people who do what we do, but most of those are in-house,” said JacoTech President Gary Jacobsen in an Aug. 1 telephone interview.

As an independent company, the North Brook-based firm makes it possible for film manufacturers to get into the thin screen production industry without building their own in-house technology base in specialized engraved molding, he said.

The latest and greatest technology for video screens and monitors has changed dramatically since JacoTech launched in 2003, Jacobsen noted. At that time, high definition screens tended to be heavy and bulky. With new thin-screen LED technology, consumers can now buy a 55-inch television that weighs 25 pounds.

On the other end of the technology-and-size spectrum, the contest to produce smaller smart phones with high resolution images also is pushing the demand on optical plastics.

Cylindrical molds used in film production must meet extreme tolerance requirements so the image is not distorted in the final product, he said. JacoTech uses CNC diamond engraving to produce the very precise surface requirements on the mold, while its 15 employees — in the U.S. and China — include technical experts with years of experience in production, Jacobsen said. Their design and engineering capabilities make it possible for film producers to get a foothold in production.

“A lot of companies out there have the expertise and the extrusion equipment already in house,” he said. “It’s a matter of learning about the business and getting the molds, obviously.”