Author Topic: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?  (Read 2621 times)

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Offline Bradlez

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How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« on: May 14, 2021, 03:12:38 pm »
Hi electrical engineers! I'm new to this forum but have been a long time fan of Dave and his EEVBLOG channel.

I was just wondering if anyone knows where and how I could possibly manufacture a custom LCD design as Dave has done in his custom LCD creation playlist/series https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvOlSehNtuHvmK-VGcZ33ZuATmcNB8tvH. I don't currently plan to mass produce a product, nor do I have a company. Every company I look for that manufactures segment LCDs of different sorts like Black TN displays either require that I represent on behalf of a company or plan to sell the product. Is it even remotely possible for me as an individual who only currently plans to make a prototype to make such a custom LCD? The reason I'm doing this is I don't want to go the hassle to get a full color display and trying to design a more complex PCB with more complex programming, let along, sacrifice some of the useful qualities of these basic LCDs like being easy to see under sunlight. Any ideas?

Bradlez

Edit: By the way, the design process of designing the segments to the extent Dave did in his video is not a concern for me.
 

Offline ucanel

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Offline Bradlez

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2021, 03:38:49 pm »
Well considering I'm probably going to have in excess of 200 segments, oof that's going to be pretty much impossible this way. I'd like my prototype to also look professional as well. Quite a lot to ask I assume, but it's why I asked in the first place.
 

Online thm_w

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2021, 08:54:46 pm »
Use your name as the company name, or make up a name.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2021, 09:00:26 pm »
Use your name as the company name, or make up a name.
This. As for going into production, just make something up.

One way to sidestep questions like this is to say that you are a consultant just involved in design & are not involved with production schedule, volumes etc.
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Offline Bradlez

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2021, 02:16:29 am »
The issue is if you don’t give such specifics they’ll just reject you anyways. I already tried one company without specifying how many I’m going to sell or what my production timeline would be.

I’m going to try Alibaba as Dave hinted in one of his videos. Maybe they don’t care about all of these business formalities.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2021, 02:45:32 am »
There was a thread here a couple years ago where somebody had a small run of custom LCD displays made for some kind of vintage pocket computer, have you seen that? I don't recall what the thread was called but I'm sure somebody remembers it. I recall being surprised at how inexpensive it was.
 

Offline 3roomlab

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how much noise is too much noise?
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2021, 06:23:53 am »
Yeah that's the one. I was very impressed, prior to that I didn't think it was feasible for an individual to have a custom LCD manufactured, I assumed it was the sort of thing that cost tens of thousands of dollars to tool up.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2021, 08:41:55 am »
The issue is if you don’t give such specifics they’ll just reject you anyways. I already tried one company without specifying how many I’m going to sell or what my production timeline would be..
So just make up some figures.
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Online bsw_m

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2021, 01:33:19 am »
don't think of it as an advertisement, I had the experience of ordering custom displays here: https://display.by/ru/contacts.shtml
At the same time, I ordered as a private person. The only aspect, they do not undertake to make one display, but from 5 and, most likely, they can make.
 

Offline Bradlez

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2021, 09:48:12 am »
I’ve managed to successfully get a quote on alibaba. I did use a company this name though I realised I had access to, but I don’t think they cared. 250-300USD is fair right for VA?
 

Offline jduncan

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2021, 10:41:51 am »
No, it's not "fair". They're doing this probably at cost or even a loss in the expectation they are dealing with a legitimate manufacturer who may become a paying customer.
 
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Offline Bradlez

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2021, 03:57:11 pm »
250USD for tooling a segment LCD is doing it at a loss!? Even in 2021? Surely for a technology this old, it can't be that expensive. How come?
 

Offline james_s

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2021, 04:46:38 pm »
250USD for tooling a segment LCD is doing it at a loss!? Even in 2021? Surely for a technology this old, it can't be that expensive. How come?

Very likely yes. As I mentioned earlier, I was absolutely shocked that a custom LCD could be made at such a low price. If someone had asked me to guess how much it would cost for tooling I would have said $15k-$30k sounds reasonable. $250 is peanuts, for reference a friend of mine owns a machine shop and last I checked they charge $90/hr shop rate so it would have to be a trivially simple job for them to set up for $250. Custom LCDs aren't like PCBs that are made in vast quantities and panelized with potentially dozens of different layouts on each panel that are then cut apart. Even the PCBs are typically loss leaders that are funded by large production orders.
 

Online coppice

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2021, 05:06:38 pm »
250USD for tooling a segment LCD is doing it at a loss!? Even in 2021? Surely for a technology this old, it can't be that expensive. How come?

Very likely yes. As I mentioned earlier, I was absolutely shocked that a custom LCD could be made at such a low price. If someone had asked me to guess how much it would cost for tooling I would have said $15k-$30k sounds reasonable. $250 is peanuts, for reference a friend of mine owns a machine shop and last I checked they charge $90/hr shop rate so it would have to be a trivially simple job for them to set up for $250. Custom LCDs aren't like PCBs that are made in vast quantities and panelized with potentially dozens of different layouts on each panel that are then cut apart. Even the PCBs are typically loss leaders that are funded by large production orders.

Making simple segmented LCDs is actually quite a lot like making a PCB. They panelize them in a similar way to PCBs. If you want an LCD that fits some common size and pinout arrangements, all they have to do is make a single mask for the segment layer. If you have custom connection requirements things can get more complex, but not massively so.

$250 is cheap for making a simple custom segmented panel, but it certainly shouldn't cost anything like $15k, even with a complex custom connection scheme.
 

Online SiliconWizard

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2021, 05:22:18 pm »
No, it's not "fair". They're doing this probably at cost or even a loss in the expectation they are dealing with a legitimate manufacturer who may become a paying customer.

Yeah, but given those chinese companies probably sell a very LARGE number of LCDs a year, they won't go bankrupt if a few individuals just use them to make a few tens of LCDs. And I seriously doubt more than a "few" individuals order this each year. This is a very niche "hobby". Don't fret too much over it really.
 

Online coppice

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2021, 05:27:16 pm »
No, it's not "fair". They're doing this probably at cost or even a loss in the expectation they are dealing with a legitimate manufacturer who may become a paying customer.
Yeah, but given those chinese companies probably sell a very LARGE number of LCDs a year, they won't go bankrupt if a few individuals just use them to make a few tens of LCDs. And I seriously doubt more than a "few" individuals order this each year. This is a very niche "hobby". Don't fret too much over it really.
They produce huge numbers of LCD designs that never reach mass production. Having your own LCD made with little intention of ever using more than a few hundred is common. I assume they price these jobs so they at least break even. The margin on mass produced segmented LCDs is very low, as its a very competitive field.
 

Offline jduncan

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2021, 08:29:38 pm »
Sure, you're not going to break the bank.

I just find it rich that someone questions whether they're getting a fair price while essentially cheating the vendor by misrepresenting themselves when they never intend to purchase more than a single unit. That's definitely not their business model.
 

Offline ebastler

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2021, 02:13:03 pm »
The reason I'm doing this is I don't want to go the hassle to get a full color display and trying to design a more complex PCB with more complex programming, let along, sacrifice some of the useful qualities of these basic LCDs like being easy to see under sunlight. Any ideas?

I would have thought that, for a prototype/proof of concept, you are better off with an off-the-shelf dot matrix display. You could still use a monochromatic LCD (with or without backlight) if that gives the right visibility and battery life and you don't need color. But it would give you the freedom to quickly iterate on the screen layout as you gain exerience with your prototype in practical use.

I am curious how the custom LCD design works for you on the "hassle" scale, and whether you end up ordering multiple iterations. Please keep us posted!
 

Offline Bradlez

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2021, 07:01:56 am »
In the long run my team plans to create a consumer product with these LCDs. So I don't find it kind that the other guy assumed my question was "rich" given I'm brand new to LCD design and such and have no idea of pricing other than the pricing of PCBs.

In other words, I've decided to go for a white segment on black VA display with no backlight (so the backlight is on the PCB behind diffused with some sanded acrylic in between). Will it even work, or work well at all?
 

Offline jduncan

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2021, 11:49:10 am »
I don't currently plan to mass produce a product, nor do I have a company.

That's what you said in the OP. Sorry I "assumed" you were telling the truth, silly of me.
 
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Offline Bradlez

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2021, 03:46:36 am »
Well my long term plan is different to my current plan so sorry I didn’t specify that. Either way you’re picking a fight because I’m buying a service at the price they gave me. Even if I was a hobbyist, so what? They’re an experienced manufacturer and they accepted the price. Like custom PCBs, hobbyists should be able to design their own LCDs as well. I also went the effort to make a design specification document and vector layout file to the extent Dave did in his video so it wasn’t like I was lazy and slapped a drawing a napkin, even though that’s also completely acceptable. Considering that, it felt pretty dismissive, as a new member to this forum even.

Anyways for those who wants to take this conversation seriously, I asked a question about VA panels in my last post because I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with a separate backlight.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2021, 06:19:41 am »
I don't see anyone picking a fight with you, no need to be apprehensive, some of your messages are just a little confusing. Go ahead and have the displays made, don't worry about it, you're far from being the only hobbyist who has possibly exaggerated a little as to the likelihood of being a profitable customer and who knows, if you like the services they provide you might be able to send other customers their way in the future.
 

Offline ebastler

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Re: How to manufacture custom segment LCDs without a company?
« Reply #24 on: May 19, 2021, 07:41:36 am »
I asked a question about VA panels in my last post because I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with a separate backlight.

What do you mean by "separate" backlight? And did you possibly mean to say you have never seen a VA display without a backlight?

If you intend to operate a VA display without backlight, as I had understood from your earlier post: I would assume that it is readable, but does not look great. It will probably not give you the "cool" white-on-black look with high contrast, but will show the bright elements with lowish contrast.
 


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