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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Gen 8 OLED Fabs Coming Soon

I’m starting to get very excited about OLED technology. Here’s why.

What is the forecast for OLED technology?

Merrill Lynch estimates OLED displays will grow from $4B in 2011 to $20B in 2015 and as high as $35B in 2017. Samsung alone is expected to spend $5B a year on OLED capex annually for the next several years. Only Samsung has announced a Gen 8 plants as of December 1, but most display manufacturers have pilot plants running in 2012. Others panel makers including AUO, CMI, LGD are expected to announce Gen 8-size fabs perhaps sometime in 2012 (for completion in 2013-2015). Japanese makers Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi are expected to announce plans in the coming year, and BOE of China announcing Gen 5.5 and Gen 8 plants for 2014. Given the speed with which LEDs backlighting penetrated the TV market, these Gen 8 OLED fabs could be accelerated. Some people are speculating that Apple iPad will be move to OLEDs (maybe 3D OLEDS) which could further accelerate the industry.

Why are OLED displays expected to be popular?

OLED displays are currently used in smartphones and will migrate to tablet and TVs once Gen 8 production gets established in 2013 and beyond. OLED displays are thinner, lighter, more energy efficient, offer better picture quality, and faster response times than LCD. Plastic substrates and flexible displays will replace glass for cost additional cost savings and feature benefits.

Who are the top suppliers?

According to the Merrill Lynch report, small cap suppliers in Korea are currently serving Samsung at the Gen 5.5 level. At larger sizes, Applied Materials, TEL, Dainippon Screen, and Ulvac are expected to play. Material companies include DuPont and Dow in the US, many suppliers from Japan including Ube Industries, Hodogaya Chemical, Toyo Ink, Idemitsu Kosan, Bando Chemical, and BASF and Merck from Europe.

What is SEMI doing to serve the OLED market?

Many SEMI members who serve the LCD market are also expected to serve the OLED industry. Currently 14 of the top 15 equipment TFT-LCD equipment suppliers are SEMI members. Some SEMI standards are expected to transfer to OLED operations. OLED technology and manufacturing information are key subjects in SEMI FPD exposition conferences (FPD China and Display Taiwan). OLED technology is critical foundation for our Organic Electronics Conference, held in conjunction with SEMICON Europa. OLEDs are also a popular conference topic at SEMICON Japan and SEMICON West. SEMI believes that many of the same processes, services and Standards operations that have helped scale the semiconductor industry will also be relevant to the emerging OLED industry.

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