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 specialized cylindrical molds used to produce film for the optical plastics industry. The company's parts have been used in 3-D signs, orbital telescopes, 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, Ill.-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 smartphones with high-resolution images also is making greater demands on optical plastics.
Cylindrical molds used in film production must meet extreme tolerance requirements so the image is not distorted in the final product, Jacobsen said. JacoTech uses computer numerically controlled diamond engraving to produce the very precise surface requirements on the mold. 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 manufacturers 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.”