The global display ink jet printing market has become a competition of three major companies __ Tokyo Electron, JOLED and Toray Engineering __ with the decline of Kateeva.
Though Kateeva’s equipment for thin film encapsulation in small-sized OLED was once used by market leader Samsung Display and rising Chinese display giants, the company is facing a cash flow problem. People familiar with the matter said Kateeva hasn’t won any new orders from display-making clients in years.
For its new quantum dot (QD) display line, Samsung Display chose encapsulation equipment from Semes, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics. Semes is supplying five ink jet printing equipment for color filters and two ink jet printing equipment for thin film encapsulation.
Kateeva has reportedly fired a large number of employees in the fourth quarter of last year. It gave up its production of organic material for thin film encapsulation. Equipment production is likely to be negatively affected.
Chinese display makers also also using other vendors besides Kateeva.
CSOT, once a client of the US company, chose Toray Engineering’s equipment for its second OLED line at its T4 factory. BOE is testing Tokyo Electron’s 8.5th generation and 6th generation equipment at is factory in Hefei.
Juhua Printing, another subsidiary of TCL like CSOT, recently purchased ink jet printing equipment from Panasonic for research purposes. Panasonic formed JOLED with JDI, Sony and other Japanese companies back in 2015.
JOLED and CSOT have announced that they will be entering the large-sized OLED panel market. JOLED may form partnerships with Chinese players to sell equipment or license out technologies.
LG Display, the current sole producer of large-sized OLED panels, have used Kateeva-made equipment for research but is using Tokyo Electron’s equipment in its commercial production lines.
Taiwan’s AUO is also using Tokyo Electron’s ink jet printing equipment.
In ink jet printing for OLED, the self-emitting organic light materials are vaporized and deposited onto a glass sheet in liquid form through nozzles. It is touted as being cost effective but low yield rates have been the main obstacle for commercialization.