Toyota Tsusho Invests in Kyusyu Nanotec Optics, which Possesses the World's First High-Function Liquid Crystal Light Control Film Manufacturing Technology
-Supporting commercialization of new technologies, with a focus on use in next-generation mobi-

Toyota Tsusho Corporation ("Toyota Tsusho") hereby announces plans to acquire stake in Kyusyu Nanotec Optics Co., Ltd. ("Kyusyu Nanotec Optics"), a company which develops, manufactures and sells high-function liquid crystal light control films*1. Toyota Tsusho is to a 35.28% shareholding in Kyusyu Nanotec Optics through a third-party allotment via Oita Venture Capital Co., Ltd. And in conjunction with this move, Toyota Tsusho has dispatched three directors to Kyusyu Nanotec Optics.

1. Kyusyu Nanotec Optics

Kyusyu Nanotec Optics thus far has received support from the government and Oita Prefecture to carry out research and development in various types of light control films, including technology for the mass production of the world’s first reverse mode film*2.

One function that Kyusyu Nanotec Optics possesses that no other company does, is that it proprietarily owns R&D resources, spanning from liquid crystal preparation to manufacturing. The company develops liquid crystal materials and selects component materials in accordance with customer needs. It also aims to develop films with a clear field of visibility and improve film performance under high temperature conditions. The company has also carried out development of high-function liquid crystal light control films that can be used in automobiles. Moreover, in 2018, Kyusyu Nanotec Optics was recognized by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry under the Strategic Core Technology Advancement Program (“Supporting Industry Program”). Going forward, Kyusyu Nanotec Optics is aiming to expand into the light control film market, which is expected to grow to be worth ¥150.0 billion in 2020, by further improve performance and developing applications for use in various industries, including the transportation sector (automobiles and the Shinkansen bullet train) and architecture.

2. Investment background and objective

Demand is growing for high-function liquid crystal light control films, which are already being used in various places, including conference rooms and commercial facilities. In addition, owing to the emergence of CASE, which encompasses new technologies including autonomous driving and vehicle electrification, and MaaS, a new mobility service, it is believed that the concept of the car cabin space will transform in accordance with changes in how people use cars and how they spend time inside of them. In light of this, it is anticipated that liquid crystal light control films will also be used in car interiors.

Toyota Tsusho is taking into account demand from this change in consumer use of cars. In addition to backing the knowhow it possesses related to automotive parts and supporting the development of a mass production system, the company also aims to expand the use of liquid crystal light control films throughout society. This includes pursuing their application in display-related fields, including digital signage as well as looking for new methods of use.

[Reference] Examples of liquid crystal light control film usage: Glass walls

 
Power off: Transparent   Power on: Opaque

*1: High-function liquid crystal light control film
A 0.1mm-thick film uses electricity to control the light passing through the liquid crystal, and can instantaneously switch between transparent and opaque. Other functions of the film are its excellent shielding ability from light, its infrared and UV cut function, and its use as a projector screen. High-function liquid crystal light control films are used in conjunction with glass construction materials for conference rooms and showroom windows, and for projector screens.

*2: Reverse mode film
In contrast with the traditional high-function liquid crystal light control film, this type of film is transparent when the power is off and opaque when the power is turned on. It is opaque only when the power is turned on so not only is it easy to create a private space but it is also gaining increased attention in the automotive and airline industries from the perspective of safety and energy savings.

Company profiles

CompanyKyusyu Nanotec Optics Co., Ltd.Toyota Tsusho Corporation
Address
Oaza Fujiwara 2393, Hiji-town, Hayami-district, Oita Prefecture
9-8, Meieki 4-chome Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture
Establishment
August 2004
July 1, 1948
Representative
Junichi Baba, CEO
Ichiro Kashitani, President & CEO
Capital
¥10 million
¥64,936 million
No. of employees
27 (as of February 1, 2019)
Consolidated: 56,827 ( as of March 31, 2018)
Business description
R&D, manufacturing and sales of functional liquid crystal films
Domestic trade of various goods, import/export, trade between foreign countries, construction subcontractor, agency business for various types of insurance, etc.

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