Japan’s Canon Tokki is the leader in OLED deposition equipment and the industry is watching closely whether they will maintain this leadership in the era of Gen 8 OLED as it did the prior generations.
Samsung Display and LG Display, the company’s main customers, are currently developing equipment for Gen 8 with other companies besides Canon Tokki.
Meanwhile, Apple, the biggest buyer of OLED panels, is still strongly preferring the Japanese company, sources said.
Cupertino is the two South Korean panel makers’ most important customer and it can use its influence to effectively suggest to them to use Canon Tokki.
It has been over a year since Samsung Display and LG Display have begun developing Gen 8 equipment with their respective partners.
Samsung Display especially is expected to have to place orders soon to keep its spending plan worth billions of dollars within a reasonable timeline.
Gen 8 OLED lines are made to manufacture 10- to 20-inch panels aimed at tablets and notebooks.
This is more economical for companies to do so than using their existing Gen 6 lines, which use smaller substrates.
Samsung has been developing deposition equipment dedicated to Gen 8 with Japan’s Ulvac.
It is a full-cut, vertical deposition machine and is expected to be used in Samsung Display’s first Gen 8 OLED line, which will manufacture single-stack OLED panels.
But Apple is preferring two-stack tandem OLED that uses two red, green and blue emission layers over this method and has expressed as much as to Samsung Display.
Though T8 is expected to have room to make some two-stack tandem panels, it is expected to largely provide panels for Samsung, Dell, HP, Lenovo and other companies besides Apple first.
Sources said Samsung Display will likely have to concede to Apple and install Canon Tokki’s Gen 8 half-cut, horizontal deposition machine for the second phase of T8.
Or, alternatively, if Samsung Display halts the development of Gen 8 equipment with Ulvac, it could install Canon Tokki’s kits from the first phase, they said.
Meanwhile, LG Display has been developing its own Gen 8 half-cut, horizontal equipment with South Korean equipment maker Sunic System.
This partnership is yet to receive the blessing of Apple as well.
Unlike Samsung Display which has a sure customer in Samsung, LG Display completely relies on only Apple for its smartphone OLED panels. It may be forced to abandon its project with Sunic System to use Canon Tokki for Cupertio.
Canon Tokki, meanwhile, is in no hurry, sources said. It supplied mostly to Samsung Display during the development stage of Gen 6 OLED but now has multiple customers besides the South Korean panel maker.
Since last year, Canon Tokki had maintained its stance that instead of co-developing Gen 8 equipment it will develop and supply them on its own if its customers place their orders.
This is likely done to offset any chance that it will have to exclusively supply its kits to a certain company as co-development means co-ownership.
Unlike its South Korean panel counterparts, BOE is planning to use Canon Tokki’s equipment straight away.