August 6, 2014 4:37 am JST

Japan venture aims to begin mass-producing OLED panels in 2018

TOKYO -- Japan Display, Panasonic, Sony and Innovation Network Corp. of Japan will invest about 20 billion yen ($193 million) in a trial production line for OLED display panels in 2015, stepping closer to their goal of mass-producing the screens by 2018.

     The line will start operating in late 2015. After reviewing the production process, the joint venture, Joled, plans to start shipping samples in 2016. It will target tablet and laptop makers, including Apple.

     Joled will produce 10- to 12-inch panels for tablets, as well as 13.3-inch screens for laptops. It plans to churn out about 4,000 so-called 4.5-generation glass panels, measuring 730mm by 920mm, every month at the partners' factories.

     While South Korean manufacturers such as Samsung and LG have put OLED panels to practical use in TVs, their production processes have not allowed for cheap, large-scale output of smaller screens.

     Joled is developing a mass production technique using special printing technologies to apply light-emitting material to the panels, hoping to gain a large market share in midsize products for use in mobile devices.

     Global shipments of OLED panels will total about $12.67 billion this year, according to U.S. statistics provider DisplaySearch. The figure is expected to double by 2020 on increased demand for use in tablets and laptops.

     Unlike LCD screens, these panels do not require backlights, allowing tablets and laptops to be made a few hundred grams lighter.