Is the growing OLED display market worth billions? Seoul, Korea-based LG Display apparently thinks so. The tech giant announced on Friday that it will initially invest the equivalent of $1.6 billion to start construction on a new OLED (organic light-emitting diode) panel plant in Korea.
The facility, which is expected to begin display panel production in early 2018, could cost up to $8.67 billion depending on consumer demand and market conditions. The plant will be located in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, Korea.
The company anticipates growing demand for OLED panels over the next several years. The plant will mostly make large OLED TV panels and flexible OLED panels (pictured) for smart watches and automotive displays. The investment will cover construction, foundations for the clean rooms and infrastructure for water and power supplies. Once completed, the plant will cover an area of just over 1 million square feet and stand more than 300 feet high. Plans call mostly for the installation of 9th-generation large-size OLED lines.
LG is expecting the lines will produce OLED in every product segment, including flexible and transparent displays. Market research firm HIS has predicted that the global OLED panel market will grow to $29.1 billion in 2022 from $8.7 billion in 2014.
Demand for flexible OLED panels in the smart watch and automotive display sectors is also rising because they promise better design flexibility than LCD panels. OLED displays can be more energy efficient than standard LCD panels because each pixel can be lit or darkened as necessary, removing the need to backlight every pixel. The fewer pixels that are used in displays, the less energy they require.
TV manufacturers in Korea, China and Japan have already released OLED TV models, with more expected to adopt the technology for their TVs soon. One such client for LG’s factory might be Apple, if that company decides to use OLED panels for iPhones going forward.
While Apple generally doesn’t depend on a single component supplier, having LG in the mix could give the company another option for sourcing OLED panels for iPhone handsets. The Apple Watch is so far the only Apple product using an OLED display instead of a regular LCD screen, but reports have suggested that in the next couple of years Apple will begin using the more power-efficient OLED technology to a greater extent.
LG has already announced that it will invest close to $1 billion in a 6th-generation flexible OLED production line in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk Province, Korea. The 6th-generation production line will produce 7,500 sheets per month and is expected to start mass production in the first half of 2017.
The company’s investment in the Paju plant "is a historical investment for the industry since it will not only help expand the OLED market but also accelerate the development of future display technologies," Sang Beom Han, LG Display's president and chief executive, said in a statement.
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Posted: 2015-11-29 @ 1:20pm PT
Before you buy from LG, do some research about working conditions in their foreign factories.