Gen 6 OLED panel production line
Samsung Display has placed orders for equipment to its suppliers that it plans to use for its new mobile OLED production line, which will likely be called A4E, TheElec has learned.
The new production line will use Gen 6 (1500x1850mm) substrates to manufacture small OLED panels that will be used in smartphones.
A4E will be built at the location where L7-2 line, which manufactured liquid crystal display panels, use to be at Samsung Display’s plant at Asan, South Korea.
The company is building a new line to offset the drop in OLED production capacity from upgrading its existing A3 and A4-1 lines.
A4E will therefore won’t have some of the equipment that are used at A3 and A4-1 (previously called L7-1).
A3 and A4-1 lines were upgraded to add processes that can have the OLED panels support Y-OCTA touch technology and low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) thin-film transistor (TFT) technology.
This has also caused some equipment to be swapped and unused. These will be reused in A4E, which will also have equipment that support application of LTPO TFT on to the OLED panels.
Samsung Display is aiming for a capacity of 30,000 substrates per month for A4E.
It has placed kit orders enough for 15,000 substrates per month, which will cost the company around 1 trillion won. It will order equipment for the additional 15,000 substrates per month next year.
A4E will be relatively expensive to built as though it doesn’t have deposition equipment it has kits for LTPO TFF, which costs more than those for low-temperature polycrystalline silicon (LTPS) TFT.
LTPO changes the switching TFT to oxide material to reduce power consumption compared to LTPS. LTPO has around three to four more layers because of this, which requires additional production steps.
Samsung Display’s largest customer Apple applied LTPO OLED panels in its iPhone 13 Pro models for the first time this year.
Cupertino is expected to ship even more iPhones next year, and Samsung Display is preparing to meet this surge.
Samsung Display was expected to start spending on A4E earlier but this was delayed by a quarter.
This is likely due to poor smartphone sales of its other customer Samsung Electronics, and higher than expected OLED panel supply to Apple by rival BOE.
Once A4E is complete, Samsung Display will secure a production capacity of 165,000 substrates per month by 2023, similar to its capacity back in 2019.