Samsung Display, Samsung Electronics' display manufacturing arm, is the world's biggest OLED panel maker. Its OLED panels are used in smartphones from Apple and almost all other phone brands. It also supplies OLED and QD-OLED panels for laptops and TVs. The company is now racing to invest billions of dollars to improve OLED production efficiency in anticipation of getting more orders from Apple.
According to a report from Nikkei Asia, Samsung Display is investing around KRW 4.1 trillion (around $3.05 billion) to set up new OLED production lines at its Tangjeong factory in South Korea. The South Korean firm will be the world's first to start the mass production of 8.6-generation OLED substrates that measure 2,620 x 2,200mm each. These substrates will then be converted into mid-sized OLED panels for tablets and laptops. Samsung Display's plan is to make around 10 million OLED panels every year.
Samsung's 8.6-generation OLED substrate will double the production efficiency
The company currently uses sixth-generation glass substrates, measuring 1,850 x 1,500mm each, to make OLED panels. Upgrading to 8.6-generation substrates would improve the production efficiency by more than 2x and increase the production capacity. However, making large substrates is more complex, which could compel Japanese production equipment firms Canon, Nikon, and Tokyo Electron to improve their technology.
LG Display is also investing KRW 3.3 trillion (around $2.46 billion) to improve its OLED production facilities at the Paju plant. The company will adopt sixth-generation substrates in the future, which means that it can't match Samsung Display. Both firms want to grab OLED manufacturing contracts from Apple, which is expected to launch its first OLED iPad in 2024 and first OLED MacBook Pro in 2026.
Both South Korean firms are vying to keep Chinese display manufacturing firms out of the OLED market. Chinese firms have already captured most of the LCD market and are slowly improving their OLED technology. BOE, Everdisplay Optronix, and Visionox are expanding their OLED production capacity thanks to subsidies from the Chinese government. So, it is vital for LG and Samsung to hold on to their combined 80% market share to survive.