TCL chairman and CEO Li Dongsheng will visit South Korea near the end of the month to meet local display panel production equipment makers, TheElec has learned.
His visit to South Korea is scheduled ahead of his trip to Japan where he plans to visit Japanese display panel maker JOLED.
Li is expected to check the trend of Gen 8 OLED technologies as well as ask for collaboration with the equipment makers in South Korea.
TCL is a challenger to LG Electronics for the world’s No. 2 spot in TVs. Its subsidiary CSOT is just behind compatriot BOE in liquid crystal display (LCD) shipment. But TCL is yet to make a mark in the OLED sector.
Though BOE saw its shipment of OLED panels to Apple for iPhones drop as it was caught having changed the thin-film transistor design for OLED panels aimed at iPhone 13 without permission, CSOT is yet to supply a single OLED panel to Cupertino.
BOE also beats CSOT in OLED shipment to Samsung for their smartphones. BOE had secured expertise in OLED by becoming the main supplier of flexible OLED panels to Huawei.
Sources said Li is expected to show strong interest in Gen 8 OLED panel technologies, which Samsung Display and LG Display are actively developing.
Existing Gen 6 OLED lines are oversaturating the market and Gen 8 OLED technologies are expected to give the next spur for growth for the display panel industry.
South Korean display panel equipment makers have expertise in Gen 8 OLED technologies from their collaboration with Samsung Display and LG Display.
These companies are attempting to secure the right surface area to make the Gen 8 substrates optimal for display panels 10-inch or larger.
They are also developing various deposition machines, masks and frames for this.
Meanwhile, the TCL chairman is also expected to ask South Korean display panel equipment makers to deliver their kits timely.
The pandemic had caused supply chain issues for equipment, components and materials, which negatively affected end product makers like TCL. CSOT is also expected to place equipment orders for its Gen 6 OLED line T5 soon.
CSOT is also collaborating with JOLED on inkjet printing OLED. The Chinese display panel maker is preparing a Gen 8.5 printing OLED line called T8 in Guanzhou, which the company says will start production in 2024 but sources said the schedule is too bullish and will unlikely be met.
In inkjet printing OLED, nozzles are used to spray the organic material to form the red, green and blue sub-pixels. This is a simpler process compared to vacuum deposition which is widely used now and also causes less material loss.
But in the process of changing the characteristics of the organic materials so that they can be printed uniformly, the brightness of the OLEDs may drop.
In contrast, OLED vacuum deposition deposits the organic material in a vacuum state at high temperatures. TV OLED panels have between three to four layers and use color filters to express the colors. For smartphone OLED panels, RGB sub-pixels are all deposited on the same layer to express light and colors. The production process uses fine metal masks. When the organic material is vaporized, there is a heavy loss of the material, but this production method has been commercially verified.