OLED-applied products continue to expand in the smartphone market. Apple plans to launch new iPhones in application of OLED technology in late 2017, and Samsung Electronics will apply OLED to its entire smartphone production. Chinese set manufacturers are employing OLED for high-end smartphones, Samsung Display’s OLED production in China is also increasing.
In response to the growing demand for smartphone OLED, major display manufacturers such as Samsung Display, LG Display, Japan Display, BOE and CSOT are currently investing or planning to invest in Gen6 flexible AMOLED mass production lines.
The size of panel manufacturers’ Gen6 flexible AMOLED mass production lines to be set for two years between 2017 ~ 2018 is approx. 20 lines based on 15K, in which the deposition equipment, one of the key equipment for OLED mass production becomes a critical element for the production facility.
Currently, Samsung Display and LG Display are the sole manufacturers of flexible AMOLED, both of which are using Canon Tokki deposition equipment. Although SNU (merged into SFA), SFA, and ULVAC have also supplied deposition equipment for the mass production sized Gen4 ~ Gen5.5 to Chinese panel makers; Sunic system supplied Gen6 deposition equipment to LG Display in 2016, yet not reaching the mass production stage. Canon Tokki is the only deposition equipment supplier for Gen6.
As a result, panel makers want to purchase Canon Tokki equipment, but unfortunately Canon Tokki’s lack of capacity for mass-producing equipment cannot entirely satisfy the panel clients’ market demand.
Consequently SFA has taken over the SNU, securing a competitiveness of deposition equipment, and succeeded in winning the deposition equipment supply contract for the Gen5.5 mass production line at GVO and Royole in China. Sunic system also received additional deposition equipment order for Gen6 in the second half of 2016, and Applied Materials is also under development to supply deposition equipment to panel makers.
In summary, the deposition equipment market originally dominated by Canon Tokki continues to be challenged by new market players. It will be a great impact to the deposition equipment market if the new market players from the panel manufacturing industry can succeed in mass production with the deposition equipment supplied by new manufacturers.