How fierce is the competition in the OLED market?
According to foreign media reports, South Korean prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against 11 staff members accused of leaking Samsung OLED folding screens in China. The lawsuit was initiated by the Suwon Prosecutor's Office in South Korea. The 11 alleged staff members worked for companies accused of producing automated equipment to produce mobile phone screens to steal Samsung's OLED folding screen 3D lamination technology. It is reported that three of the 11 people, including the company's CEO, have been arrested and awaiting trial.
Because foldable OLED mobile phones can provide another design form of smart phones, to meet the needs of some people who do not have high requirements for picture quality, but have high requirements for display area, they can occupy a place in the high-end market, foldable OLED mobile phones for the panel industry, is a capacity digestion weapon.
Because if you count the yield loss of the current OLED mass production technology level, according to Li Xing's conservative estimate of the OLED production capacity area consumed by a foldable OLED mobile phone, it is at least six to eight times more than the current single-screen mobile phone.
According to Li Xing, this year Samsung put the production of foldable OLED panels on the A3 production line, the earliest mass production of flexible OLED panels. After receiving an order from Apple, the A3 production line produced a small number of flexible OLED displays of old models, and the rest of the production capacity was all arranged into hard OLED displays by Samsung.
After the A3 production line is transformed by Samsung, its maximum monthly production capacity can be arranged to 16~18K, and sources said that due to the shift to the production of foldable OLED screens, the capacity utilization rate has declined, and Samsung expects to produce about 11K foldable OLED screens per month if the production capacity is fully opened next year.
The information Li Xing learned from the supply chain shows that after adding about one to three percent of the yield loss, Samsung actually uses A3 production capacity to produce foldable OLED displays, which is about twice the cost of ordinary products according to the average unit price of the panel area.
However, a large part of the difficulty of foldable OLED display devices is in module processing technology and materials. According to the information Li Xing learned from the industry, because the capacity of this market is too small, as the OCA optical adhesive used for the main structural function, 3M is unwilling to cooperate with panel manufacturers to develop related products after testing related foldable OLED devices.
Several other Japanese and South Korean OCA optical adhesive companies are the same, although they have the intention to develop products in this market, but they also have to bear the research and development costs and mass production costs of the panel factories themselves before they are willing to proceed. As a result, Samsung had to build its own factories with suppliers to develop related OCA optical adhesive materials with suppliers.
In addition, in the lamination process of OCA optical adhesive, in addition to the OCA optical adhesive material characteristics need to be fully mastered, OCA optical adhesive bonding process and bonding material stability process, is also a key point in foldable OLED display devices, according to Li Xing and screen factories, equipment factories, material factories after communication, found that if the relevant technical indicators do not meet the requirements, foldable OLED display after working for a period of time, it is easy to appear OCA optical glue to move, forming bubbles and crease defects, Even cause the entire foldable OLED device to fail.
In fact, this time, technicians illegally sold Samsung's OLED folding screen 3D lamination technology, which is the above-mentioned OCA optical adhesive bonding and material stabilization technology after lamination, including related material treatment and equipment parameters.
In fact, after the upstream material manufacturers were unwilling to unilaterally bear the risk of material and equipment research and development of foldable OLED display devices for Samsung, Samsung has successively persuaded relevant suppliers to set up special R&D institutions and production capacity since 2013, and the suppliers provide technology research and development, Samsung provides all the funds and venues, and the technical achievements obtained are jointly held by both parties, and the future mass-produced products are underwritten by Samsung at a principal-protected price.
So we can see that in the foldable OLED product line, Samsung and suppliers have developed evaporation templates, COP equipment, OCA materials, CPI cover materials, polarizer materials, OCA\CPI\polarizer bonding equipment, etc. In fact, LG also said some time ago that it will develop the relevant materials required for foldable OLED through its subsidiaries, that is, because the technologies developed by Samsung are not developed externally.