Hanwha Solution is planning to complete the construction of its OLED fine metal mask (FMM) factory being built at Asan within the year.
However, the company is yet to secure a customer, sources said.
FMM is used to form the red, green and blue subpixels of an OLED panel. Japan’s Dai Nippon Printing is the dominant supplier of FMM.
In October, Hanwha Solution said it plans to spend 201.7 billion won on building its new OLED FMM factory in Asan.
The company said at the time that OLED panel use was expanding from smartphones to larger IT products and claimed its FMM will be price competitive.
However, it remains to be seen whether Hanwha Solution can secure a customer.
Its WOS division, which handles the FMM business, was previously a subsidiary of Wave Electro up to 2021, a company that had provided Samsung Display with samples. However, the FMM suffered from thermal expansion during these testing, sources said. Hanwha acquired WOS for 60 billion won in July 2021.
Hanwha Solution is also planning to manufacture FMM through electroforming instead of etching used by major FMM suppliers.
Electroforming can make the FMM thinner than when using etching, which will make them more optimal for high-resolution OLED panels.
However, no company has successfully commercialized FMM made with electroforming. Major OLED producers Samsung Display, LG Display and BOE all use etching FMM and procure them mostly from Dai Nippon Printing.
Asan is also where Samsung Display has its main factory in South Korea, which shows that Hanwha Solution is intent on winning the display giant as its customer.
However, sources said Samsung Display and LG Display have no plans to use electroforming FMM.
Philoptics is also developing electroforming FMM but is yet to win any customers, despite some sample testing with Chinese panel companies.