There are many standard OLED displays on the market, ranging from small PMOLED displays to smartphone-sized AMOLEDs with embedded touch abilities (and even larger ones, of course). As every company wants the optimum display for its product, many reach out to us to assist with designing a custom OLED for their project. But what does this process really entail? And who it is right for?
Does it make sense to engage an OLED display maker with a custom display? It depends on your application, budget and volume requirement. As you will see below, creating a custom OLED is never a simple project and will require a hefty sum (tooling fee, also referred to by some as NRE, or Non-Recurring Engineering) and a large minimum order requirement (MOQ). Remember that the OLED industry is still an emerging one and the displays (and all related services) are relatively expensive compared to LCDs.
Even if the project budget and volume can support the costs of creating a custom OLED, there will also be engineering limitations. For example, a PMOLED display is limited in resolution, and a transparent OLED's transmissiveness will be limited and also depends on the required resolution (display density) and color depth.
PMOLED displays are available in a wide variety of sizes, colors, resolutions and features (flexibility and transparency, for example). Most PMOLED makers will be happy, though, to engage in a custom display project.
Our experience shows that such projects will require a one-time tooling fee of around $30,000 to $100,000 USD. The exact sum depends on the display size, resolution, colors, features and of course the PMOLED maker itself. In addition to this one-time fee, PMOLED makers also require an MOQ of around 10,000 to 50,000 units.
It is important to note that if your project indeed requires tens of thousands of units, adding the one-time tooling fee may become less significant.
AMOLED displays are much more complicated than PMOLED displays - and the cost of production is much higher. Compared to the relativity lower cost of a custom PMOLED, a custom AMOLED is more expensive. We estimate that any custom AMOLED project will entail a tooling fee of at least $3 million to $5 million, with an MOQ of at least 100,000 units.
These high costs and order requirements mean that only very large volume projects actually make sense - projects such as smartphones or wearable devices - and those where the producers can actually commit to these funds in advance.
Custom OLED microdisplays
OLED microdisplays are very high end displays aimed towards near-eye displays. A microdisplay is usually under 1-inch in diameter with resolutions of VGA or higher. These displays also tend to be quite expensive - traditionally prices have been in the area of $500 or so per display.
In the last few months, cheaper OLED microdisplays have been appearing, for example these Sony 0.5" XGA panels that are available from a clearance sale or BOE's high-end 0.39" FHD microdisplays which are in production and offered at an attractive cost (around $100 - $130 depending on the volume).
The OLED Microdisplay Market is limited with only a handful of available panels. Companies such as eMagin, BOE, MicroOLED and others may be contracted to produce a custom microdisplay - but it is likely that costs will be extremely high. We do not have an estimate of such a project.
Customizing connectors, touch panels, etc
It is important to note that a display module can be customized in other ways besides the OLED panel itself - for example the connector design or the touch panel. The costs of producing a customized touch panel or connector are far lower compared to the costs of customizing the display itself - and can sometimes come to a few hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Find the right OLED for your project
If you want to adopt an OLED display in your device, we suggest to first try to find a suitable standard OLED. A good place to start is our OLED Marketplace - where we list over a hundred different OLED panels from several producers.
If you cannot find a suitable standard OLED, and the project requires a large volume of displays, you can consider a custom OLED. Contact us if you need assistance in such cases - we can help identify the right OLED producer, connect you to him and help initiate your project.