Digitimes: AUO to build a 6-Gen OLED ink-jet printing line

Digitimes reports that AU Optronics has setup a 3.5-Gen test ink-jet OLED printing line, and the company now intends to start building a 6-Gen production line. AUO will start constructing the line before the end of 2019.

AUO's Chairman confirmed that the latest advances in printing materials and equipment are starting to make OLED printing viable for commercial use. AUO has not yet decided the schedule for volume production.

LG Chem acquires DuPont's soluble OLED IP and technologies

LG Chem has acquired DuPont's soluble OLED technologies an assets, in a deal estimated at $175 million. LG Chem will receive DuPont's entire soluble OLED IP (540 materials and process patents) and all of DuPont's related equipment and R&D facilities. The deal does not include any assets related to DowDupont's evaporation OLED business.

LG Chem and DuPont soluble OLED technologies acquisition ceremony

LG Chem believes that the OLED industry is moving towards ink-jet printing of OLED panels based on soluble OLED materials and technologies - and it has now acquired key technologies in this area. DuPont has been developing related materials for over 20 years, has been collaborating with equipment makers (such as Kateeva) and display makers and has also developed its own nozzle-printing process.

UBI: 440 million AMOLEDs were shipped in 2017, the market will reach almost a billion units by 2022

UBI Research estimates that AMOLED shipments reached 440 million units in 2017 (up 13.6% from 2016), with revenues reaching $27.1 billion (up 62.3% from 2016). Only yesterday did DSCC release its own estimates of $23.2 billion in revenues for the AMOLED market in 2017.

AMOLED market forecast (2018 - 2022, UBI Research)

The AMOLED market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.5% to reach almost a billion units in 2022. Revenues will grow faster at 22% and reach $80.5 billion in 2022.

OLED Ink-jet printing market situation, early 2018

Many OLED producers believe that Ink-Jet printing of OLED emissive materials is the best way to achieve lower-cost OLED TV production, and to enable OLEDs to compete in the medium part of the TV market. Ink-Jet printing is an efficient process (less material waste compared to evaporation) and it can be very quick as well. The main drawbacks of inkjet are the limited resolution and the need for soluble emissive materials which are less efficient compared to evaporation ones.

A Kateeva OLED ink-jet printing system

These challenges are being overcome, and it seems that at least four groups (in Korea, Japan and China) are charging forward towards mass production of ink-jet printed OLEDs. Ink-jet printer makers and soluble material suppliers are also optimistic ink-jet printing commercialization will soon be here as the material performance gap is diminishing.

The EU LEO project developed efficient and cost-effective OLED lighting technologies

Leo project logoIn 2015 the EU launched a 3-year €4 million OLED lighting project, the LEO project (Low-cost / energy Efficient OLEDs) that had an aim to develop efficient and cost-effective bendable OLED lighting technologies. The project consortium included Osram, and Cynora.

A month before the project officially ends, the partners updated on their progress. For this project, the partners develops several technologies, including low-cost metal foils integrating OLED anodes and possibly backside monitoring printed circuits, smart OLED top-electrode architectures and light out-coupling solutions and a novel thin film top-encapsulation strategies. These technologies together increased the light output by 50% while providing better surface scratch resistance.

The EU SOLEDLIGHT project developed solution-processed R2R OLEDs, reports interim results

The SOLEDLIGHT (Solution Processed OLEDs for Lighting) project was launched in 2015 by a European consortium with an aim to develop cost efficient, roll-to roll (R2R) solution processed OLEDs, including their integration in prototype multiple-panel OLED lighting systems and luminaires.

The SOLEDLIGHT consortium (which is coordinated by the University of Valencia and includes OSRAM and Solvay) reported that it managed to develop multi-layer R2R solution processed OLEDs that achieved a power efficiency of 20 lm/W. This is still not up to par with evaporation-based OLEDs, but the project partners aim to achieve 100 lm/W (and 15,000 hours) by the end of 2017.

DSCC: Ink-Jet printing could lead to 17% cost reduction in 55" OLED TV production

LG Display currently produces all its OLED TV panels using an evaporation (VTE) process. Market research company DSCC says that ink-jet printing is more efficient than current VTE processes as it will result in simpler displays (no need for color filters, for example, as used by LG's current WRGB displays). Ink-Jet printing will also enjoy lower depreciation costs and lower indirect expenses such as water and electricity.

55'' OLED TV cost evaporation vs Ink-Jet (DSCC, 2017)

DSCC estimates that an ink-jet printed 55" OLED TV panel will cost 17% less to produce compared to a VTE produced panel. An ink-jet printed panel will theoretically be significantly brighter (as the color filters absorb a large portion of the light), however solution-based OLED materials have traditionally lagged behind evaporation ones (Merck though says that the latest soluble materials are on-par with evaporation ones).

Sumitomo Chemical starts to promote PLED materials and printers for OLED display production

Sumitomo Chemical acquired CDT back in 2007, and since then the Japanese company has been developing it's PLED (polymer-based OLED) materials and technologies. While initially Sumitomo aimed to produce materials for displays, in recent years it has focused mostly on OLED lighting materials and even panel production.

Touch panel production fab, Sumitomo

A noted exception was Panasonic's OLED TV development project which used printing technologies and Sumitomo's PLED materials. But Panasonic terminated this project in 2013. We speculated that JOLED, which is based on Panasonic's technology (and other technologies as well), uses PLED materials in its prototypes, but we were not sure.

Sony may be JOLED's first customer for its 21.6" 4K medical OLED monitors

Last month JOLED announced that it started to sample 21.6" 4K OLED monitors. JOLED plans to develop these OLED monitors for medical applications - it will produce these in low volume at its current 4.5-Gen pilot production line, and will start mass production in 2019.

JOLED 21.6'' 4K oled medical monitor prototypes photo

JOLED's CEO, Nobuhiro Higashiiriki, said in a conference that these first samples were shipped to Sony, which may become JOLED's first customer. JOLED says that the company managed to achieve a high quality and long lifetime, which was a challenge due to the printing process used.

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