LG Display will restart its spending on an OLED line __ E6-3 __ dedicated to customer Apple next month at the earliest, TheElec has learned.
It will be a resumption in three years and eight months. The company had delayed its spending plan on E6-3 back in 2017.
LG Display is projected to spend over 1 trillion won for the expansion.
The company will start placing orders for the equipment to be placed for the E6-3 line at its E6 plant in Paju in the third quarter.
E6-3 is the third phase upgrade of the E6 plant. LG Display manufactures flexible OLED panels for Apple using Gen 6 (1500x1850mm) substrates here.
E6-3 will have a capacity of 15,000 substrates per month. This is the same as E6-1 and E6-2. Once E6-3 goes live, LG Display can increase iPhone OLED panel production by 50%.
It cots around 2 trillion won for a Gen 6 OLED line with a capacity of 15,000 substrates per month.
But LG Display already has the factory grounds for E6-3. It also already has the organic material deposition equipment and encapsulation equipment from Japan’s Canon Tokki inside the factory grounds. So it won’t cost LG Display as much as 2 trillion won but it will exceed 1 trillion won.
LG Display will be placing the purchase orders next month for the front-end processes of OLED production, people familiar with the matter said. These include equipment for thin-film transistors (TFT), deposition and encapsulation. Orders for cell and module and other back-end processes will likely follow.
LG Display is restarting spending on E6 as it strongly believes it can no longer postpone the expansion.
Flexible OLED panels are in high demand do to Apple’s application of the panels for its iPhones.
Cupertino has increased its component orders for the upcoming iPhone 13 by 20% to around 90 million units as compared to its orders of 75 million units it placed for iPhone 12 in the same time period.
Apple wants LG Display to supply more OLED panels in light of this, the people said.
E6-3 will also allow the South Korean display panel maker to offset its production capacity drop from the application of low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) TFT. LTPO TFT requires more process steps compared to low-temperature polycrystalline silicon (LTPS) TFT, which lowers the production yield rate
LG Display started apply LTPO TFT by 5,000 substrates per month in capacity last year. It plans to put in LTPO equipment for 25,000 substrates per month capacity within E6 by the end of 2021.
E6-3 could start production in the second half of 2022 at the earliest. It takes about a year for equipment to be placed, production yield to stabilize and customer approval to come for a display panel production line.
But as E6-3 will have almost similar designs to E6-1 and E6-2, LG Display could start production earlier than this.
LG Display halted spending in E6-3 back in 2017. This was due to the fact that it failed to gain Apple’s approval for its OLED panels. LG Display began supplying OLED panels for refurbished iPhones in 2018. It began supplying for iPhones in scale the following year. It supplied 5 million units in 2019 and 25 million units in 2020.