APS Materials and Poongwon Precision has been chosen to lead a government-backed project to develop fine metal mask (FMM).
The companies beat Philoptics and Olum Materials to be chosen to lead the project given by South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
APS will lead the development of a non-etching method to manufacture FMM, while Poongwon will develop an etching method.
FMM is used is the production of organic light emitting diode (OLED) panel for smartphones.
The ministry started the project last year to manufacture them locally. South Korean companies currently import all the FMM they use from Japanese companies. The FMM market is dominated by Japan’s Dai Nippon Printing (DNP). The invar used to make FMM is dominated by Hitachi Metal.
The project’s first stage that begun last year was done as a competition between the four companies to select two winners, one for non-etching and another for etching.
APS Materials is planning to develop a laser patterning method to manufacture FMM.
The company will now work with the team led by Sunchon National University professor Park Yong-bum for the second stages of the project. They plan to develop 600ppi FMM stick for Gen 6 half substrates by 2023. They also plan to develop a way to use heat resistant invar to manufacturer the FMMs.
APS Materials was formed in November last year after APS Holdings split off its FMM business. The company is wholly owned by APS Holdings.
Philoptics had touted its electro forming method as being better than laser patterning in manufacture of FMM.
Philoptics had formed a consortium with testing equipment maker Hims and Sunic System. The equipment made by its partners are used to check whether the FMM is thermally expanded when the OLED material is deposited on the substrate. Their applications was to increase productivity.
Last year in June, Philoptics had claimed that its was close to manufacturing FMM samples for customer review.
In the etching method, Poongwon won over Olum. Japan’s DNP also uses etching method to manufacture FMM.