OLED is an emerging display technology that uses thin films of organic materials to make efficient, thin and high quality displays. OLED panels can made flexible, rollable and transparent. Korea's LG is at the forefront of OLED development and production - as the world's only OLED TV producer and a leading developer of flexible OLED and OLED lighting panels. LG's subsidiary LG Display is responsible for OLED R&D and panel production, while LG Electronics produces and markets OLED TVs.
LG OLED TVs
LG's 2018 OLED TV lineup include the flagship Wallpaper OLEDW8 (which attaches to the wall using magnets), the OLED-on-glass OLEDE8, the basic OLEDC8 and the entry level OLEDB8. The only TV that is shipping now is the 55" OLEDC8 which is priced at $2,500 (note: this is an affiliated link to Amazon).
As of 2018, the only company that produces produces commercial OLED TV panels is LG Display, and LG Electronics is the leading OLED TV producer - although LGD also supplies OLED panels to other companies including including Panasonic, Sony, Grundig, Philips, Metz, Loewe, Skyworth, Changhong, Haier, Konka and others.
While the basic OLED TV design uses RGB OLED sub-pixels to create each 'pixel' (what is referred to as direct emission OLED, the design used in mobile OLED displays used in Samsung's and Apple's smartphones, for example), LG Display opted for a different OLED TV design. The so-called WRGB (or WOLED-CF) architecture uses four white OLED subpixels with color filters on top (hence W+RBG). The WRGB technology (developed by Kodak and now owned by LG Display) is much easier to produce and scale-up, even though it has some technical disadvantages - and it is the technology that enabled LG to be the first company to actually produce commercial OLED TV panels.
LG Display is developing and producing OLED lighting panels, and the company is one of the leaders in OLED lighting. The company produces several panels, including flexible OLED panels and high efficiency panels. In December 2017 LG started mass production at its new 5-Gen OLED lighting fab in Gumi, Korea.
The 5-Gen line has an initial capacity of 15,000 substrates per month - about 30 times the capacity of LG's previous 2-Gen line that had a monthly capacity of 4,000 substrates. LG hopes that the new line will enable it to produces OLED lighting panels at a much lower cost (initial estimates suggested a 95% cost reduction!) which it hopes will trigger the widespread adoption of OLED lighting globally.
The reviewer says that this new display is "astonishing" and "immersive" - but admittingly there are some trade offs (compared to other top-end monitors): lower peak brightness, non-variable refresh rate, connector choices, etc. The review says that the 32EP950 is "truly made for professionals" and will be a best fit for graphic design, image and video editing, and broadcast grading. This is not a general-use monitor, especially at that price tag.
Omdia says that according to its estimates, LG Display will produce 8.3 million OLED TVs in 2021, a 86% increase from 2020 (4.5 million units). The company increased its estimates slightly (previously Omdia said that in 2021 LGD will produce 8.1 million panels).
DSCC says that smartphone OLED shipments have increased around 50% in Q1 2021 compared to last year, and the growth will continue - around 30% in Q2 2021 and over 40% in Q3.
The market share of flexible AMOLEDs out of all OLEDs (rigid + flexible) continues to rise, and in Q1 2021 77% of all smartphone OLED displays were flexible ones. Samsung is still the largest producer by far, holding a 75% market share in Q1 2021. LG Display holds a 8% share and BOE 6%.
The 2021 C1 OLED TV range features LG's 4th generation a9 AI processor, the company's latest webOS v6 and supports HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos. For gamers, the TVs offer HDMI 2.1, G-SYNC, FreSync, VRR and ALLM.
Korea-based OLED materials maker Solus Advanced Materials (previously Doosan Solus) announced that the company will start supplying HTL materials for LG Display, for its E3 line in Paju, used to produce OLED TVs.
According to reports from Korea, up until now Merck was LGD's sole HTL supplier (for large-area WOLED production), and Solus will now replace some of the HTL materials previously supplied by Merck. Solus hopes to expand shipments to LGD and supply HTL materials for LGD's other large-area WOLED fabs.
UBI Research says that the market for medium to large OLED displays (10-inch and up, used in IT and TV applications) has risen 156% in Q1 2021 compared the Q1 2020. Total sales reached $1.45 billion in the quarter.
Most of the growth comes from TV and laptop displays. LG Display produced 1.6 million OLED TV panels in the quarter, while sales for laptops reached 1.1 million panels. TV panels accounted for the majority of sales (as average panel price is much higher) - 81.6% of the market.
Canada-based OTI Lumionics developed innovative OLED materials and technologies. In August 2020 the company announced that it will start shipping its 2nd-gen ConducTorr Cathode Patterning Materials (CPM) by the end of 2020 to customers, which will use these to create OLED displays with under-the-display camera and face unlock technologies.
We had a short talk with the company's founder and CEO, Dr. Michael G. Helander, during which we discussed the company's technology, status and future plans.
UBI Research says that the OLED materials market will grow 17% in 2021 to $1.52 billion USD (up from $1.3 billion in 2020).
Korean OLED makers are the main customers for OLED materials, with 74.3% of the total market, while China producers represent 25.7% of the market. Samsung Display is still the leading OLED materials customers with 45.9% of the total market, LGD is second with 28.5% and BOE third with 13.7%.
LG Display says that OLED TV production is more environmentally friendly than LCD TV production. A 65-inch LCD requires around 5.2 Kg of plastic, while a similarly-sized OLED uses only 0.43 Kg of plastics.
LG Display says that in Q1 2021 alone its plastic consumption was lower by 71,550 tons compared to what it would have been if it produced LCD TVs instead of OLED TVs.