JOLED Plans to Mass Produce OLED Displays by 2017

JOLED, a new OLED display company founded by Japanese electronic giants Sony, Panasonic and government affiliated Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) has started operations in January 2015, according to a Nikkei BP report. OLED is a highly anticipated display material, due to its light weight and flexible properties. Yet, OLED displays have not been widely adopted because of its cost disadvantages compared to LCD panels.

Although, Sony and Panasonic invested resources in OLED R&D, the companies did not find a major application market for the technology till TV displays came into the picture. JOLED was founded by integrating Sony and Panasonic’s OLED display research departments. Nobuhiro Higashiiriki, the former CEO for optical inspection equipment firm Orbotech’s Japan, has been appointed as CEO and Chairman of JOLED.

An earlier report by The Japan Times outlined JOLED aims to manufacture 10 to 20-inch OLED panels for laptop and tablet computers by 2016.

The company plans to construct a 100 billion Japanese Yen (US $840 million) OLED plant in Japan, but has not decided on the location of the plant yet.

Funding for the new plant will be generated from public or business integration with LCD-maker Japan Display, said a source.

For JOLED to meet its mass production targets in 2016, OLED factory constructions will need to be completed before the summer of 2015, said Higashiiriki.

The usage of OLED has remained limited, and many in the industry have a pessimistic outlook. Yet, Higashiiriki, who has been in the LCD industry for more than two decades remained optimistic. Despite OLEDs many technological barriers, it is a worthwhile challenge, he said. Sony and Panasonic have developed advanced OLED technology over the years. The last stage is mass production, once this hurdle is overcome it will usher in a new OLED era. People would also prefer lighter and thinner OLED panels over LCDs, with the same costs and image quality, he added.

OLED is a business sector where Japan can have a competitive edge, said Higashiiriki. OLED displays basically are manfactured using inkjet printing, oxide semiconductor TFT, and finished with a top-emitting OLED structure. JOLED is currently the only company that possesses all three technology. Panasonic developed the inkjet printing technology, while the oxide semiconductor TFT and top-emitting OLED structures were made by Sony.

The inkjet printing technology is where Japanese manufacturers can differentiate themselves from other competitors. The material, equipment and manufacturing technique is required for inkjet printing technology. If products developed using inkjet printing can reach the same yield rates as deposition techniques, it could significantly reduce equipment investments, and boost competitiveness. The key to success in OLED business will be manufacturing technology, he concluded.

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