Samsung Display will need an order of substantial volume from Apple to expand its Gen 8.5 (2200x2500mm) IT OLED panels this year.
The South Korean display panel maker’s development of a vertical deposition machine, in collaboration with Japan’s Ulvac, for use in Gen 8.5 IT OLED panel that started last year was ongoing as of January 2022, sources told TheElec.
The equipment, along with fine metal masks (FMM) used to deposit organic materials precisely on the substrate, is a key technology needed to commercialize Gen 8.5 IT OLED panels.
Samsung Display is developing the technology for Apple to meet their requirements at technology and price for the panels.
Using Gen 5.5 (1300x1500mm) and Gen 6 (1500x1850mm) substrates will make the panels too costly, as fewer units of them can be cut out per substrate.
A vertical equipment can also prevent FMMs from sagging during production that can further save costs.
Samsung Display will need Apple’s approval to start spending on Gen 8.5 IT OLED production facilities in earnest. Cupertino will also need to decide that it wants to make a substantial amount of OLED iPads.
The pair had collaborated on a project to develop a 10.86-inch OLED iPad last year, which was halted during the third quarter.
Apple had wanted panels with a two stack tandem structure __ where it has two emission layers __ instead of the conventional single stack structure.
But this requirement has made the project financially unviable for Samsung Display as it couldn’t manufacture enough of the panels at the right price, sources said.
If Samsung Display can secure a large enough order from Apple this time around, it can finalize a spending plan during the second quarter and start ordering needed equipment during the third quarter.
The equipment will then likely be delivered in 2023 __ with a commercial iPad sporting an OLED panel expected in 2024.
Samsung Display is also planning to apply on-cell technology on its Gen 8.5 IT OLED panels __ they won’t have a touch screen panel which will make devices thinner.
The company is currently using its Gen 5.5 production line, A2, to supply OLED panels for notebooks to Asus and Samsung Electronics.
Meanwhile, unlike Samsung Display, LG Display is developing a horizontal deposition machine for its Gen 8.5 IT OLED panels. This requires an FMM stick in the shape of a long band, which makes the center of the stick to be vulnerable to sagging. To prevent sagging, the FMM stick is molded to a large frame.
Vertical deposition equipment, on the other hand, is less vulnerable to sagging but depositing organic materials from the side requires a higher temperature.