OLED prices set to drop with latest production techniques
OLED TVs are seen as a premium and aspirational product. Despite some rising popularity in parts of the world such as Europe, their high cost is seen as somewhat of a purchasing barrier. Now, industry analysts, IHS Markit reports that the latest productions techniques could bring increased capacity and lower prices.Plans for Inkjet Printed (IJP) organic light emitting diode panels to be mass produced by 2020 are predicted to see production capacity increase up to 12 fold in the period to 2024. IHS Markit forecasts this will result in an increase from 105,000 substrates up to 1.3 million over the period. This figure can be represented in terms of the overall area of panel created and equates to a rise from 209,000 square metres to 7.3 million square metres. The result could be lower prices for the consumer on the shop floor.
Research into OLED technology has been around for some time, with the first practical OLED device being built in 1987. However, the current production techniques for the mass TV consumer market are still relatively young and there can be problems during fabrication related to scalability, efficiency, quality control and waste - all of which contribute to higher production costs and therefore higher retail prices for the consumer.
Chase Li, senior analyst at IHS Markit explained, "In recent years, IJP has attracted the attention of panel makers due to its strong potential to reduce the cost of OLED production."
He continued, "Despite years of competition with LCDs in the market for high-end displays of all sizes, OLED market penetration remains limited because of its expensive production costs. However, IJP has the potential to dramatically reduce manufacturing expenses, making OLEDs more cost-competitive with LCDs in products including televisions and displays for computers and tablets."
Inkjet Printing of a 65-inch 4K TV on in Gen 10 facility would produce a panel 15 to 25% more cheaply than the current white OLED (WOLED) process used in the production of larger OLED panels for the TV industry.
It’s not only the larger displays that benefit from the IJP process. Small to mid-sized OLED panels (used in laptops and monitors) created using the fine metal mask (FMM) approach also present production costs reduced by up to 20 percent, this time using Gen 6 plants.
Overall, IJP requires lower investment in machinery and fab construction, has lower operating costs and up to 95 percent efficient use of materials when compared to both WOLED and FMM production.
It’s not all good news though, IJP panels do have some drawbacks post-production. Both life expectancy and brightness of the displays are poorer than the more traditional panels, so there is still some ‘tweaking’ to be done, such as adding colour filters on top of the printed OLED devices.
Nonetheless, next year, Japan-based JOLED Inc will be the first supplier to move from trial runs to mass production using IJP. It’s expected that Chinese panel makers will soon follow suit, strongly motivated by State-sanctioned business strategies and investment in the technology, and also as a way out of their self-imposed oversaturation of the LCD display market which has resulted in a dramatic fall in LCD display prices.
It will be interesting to see how the South Korean OLED manufacturers see these developments. Samsung Display is the world’s largest producer of smaller OLED screens destined for phones, laptops and automobiles. Meanwhile, LG’s business strategy over the next 5 years is based on the premium they gain from greater margins on lower sales. If they are competing against OLED TVs produced more cheaply then that premium could well be eroded. Would they themselves be forced to move to the cheaper IJP process, thus undermining their own strategy? It could be a tough call for LG execs in the years to come.
Are you planning to take the OLED plunge? If so, will you now wait a few more years for these newly produced panels to hit the market in order to take advantage of potentially lower prices? How do you think this might shake up the OLED industry? Let us know in the discussion thread.
Source: https://ihsmarkit.com, www.marketscreener.com
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