Analysts say that China and Japan will beef up cooperation in organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels, keeping Korean OLED panel makers in check. While conducting large-scale joint R&D projects, Japanese companies have begun producing key materials in China.
Japan’s Idemitsu Kosan will produce OLED materials at its Chengdu plant in China beginning in January of 2021, industry sources said on Dec. 7. The plant will secure an annual production capacity of 12 tons, far more than that of its Korean plant (eight tons in Paju) and that of its Japanese plant (two tons in Shizuoka Prefecture).
The fact that Idemitsu Kosan will operate the plant as the largest mass-production system for OLED materials in China means that there is a lot of demand from Chinese customers. Chengdu of China is home to a factory for small and medium-sized OLED panels of BOE, China’s largest display company.
Although BOE recently failed to supply panels for Apple’s iPhone 13, it is poised to continue to expand its mobile OLED panel business. Idemitsu Kosan will supply OLED materials to BOE in a stable manner. By using the OLED materials, BOE will elevate the quality of OLED panels and will make another attempt to supply panels to Apple. Idemitsu Kosan agreed to forge a technology alliance for the development of high-performance OLED materials and displays with BOE in 2017. Cooperation between the two companies will move to the next level with a focus on R&D with the start of the plant’s operation, industry analysts forecast.
China’s Visionox is also planning to operate its 6th-generation flexible OLED panel production line (30,000 units per month) in Hefei, Anhui Province of China. Tunghsu Optoelectronic has started the construction of China’s largest OLED substrate glass factory in Tianshui. These facts reflect Chinese display makers’ LCD panel phase-out moves.
Japan whose display industry collapsed kept Korean companies in check just a few years ago by holding patents with the help of Chinese capital. However, in 2020, China and Japan are setting up OLED business areas by expanding business opportunities, working together since the early stage of development.
Japan’s JOLED which attracted investment of 20 billion yen from TCL of China in June started joint R&D activities about inkjet OLED printing with CSOT, a subsidiary of TCL. CSOT is pushing to introduce inkjet printing process technology to an 11th-generation OLED production line in China and will introduce this technology ahead of others.
In particular, JOLED filed a lawsuit in the United States and Germany regarding the circuit structure of an OLED panel for Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy smartphones right after attracting Chinese capital.
As China is busy developing OLED panels while Japan is focusing on niche markets for OLED panels such as small signage and automobile electronics, the two countries will continue to collaborate for a while, industry watchers say.
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