Samsung Display is unlikely to decide within the first half of this year on whether it will spend more to expand its production capacity of quantum dot (QD)-OLED panels this year, TheElec has learned.
It is unlikely that the company will hold an investment review on QD-OLED during the first half of 2022, sources said.
Samsung affiliates regularly hold investment reviews for key businesses to report to the leadership of Samsung Group to report their evaluation and gain approval for large spending plans.
Samsung Display believes it has insufficient data such as customer reaction and market demand to make an investment review for QD-OLED, sources said.
QD-OLED panel __ called QD Display by the display maker __ is a large, high-end panel used in premium TVs or monitors.
The biggest obstacle for the company in deciding whether to spend more on QD-OLED production was also the low production yield rate of the panels, which was around 30% currently, they said.
Samsung Display was facing difficulty especially in the deposition process __ where organic materials are deposited on the panel.
The yield rate for the front-end processes of the production, which includes deposition, came down to 30% __ the ultimate yield rate, when including back-end processes such as modularization, was even lower, the sources said.
This means Samsung Display’s production capacity for QD-OLED will likely remain 30,000 substrates per month next year, same as in 2022, they said.
This is because even if an investment review was conducted during the second half of this year, considering the time it takes to place orders for equipment as well as their delivery and installation, Samsung Display will only be able to activate new production lines in 2024 at the earliest to expand its production capacity, they said.
The South Korean panel maker currently operates one production line called Q1 at its Asan plant.
The line uses Gen 8.5 (2200x2500mm) substrates and has a capacity of 30,000 substrates per month.
This is not enough to expand aggressively in the high-end panel market. The sources said Samsung Display can likely offer up to early-1 million units of QD-OLED panels for TVs and monitors per year with its current capacity. However, it will need to increase its yield rate for the panels to 70% within the year to achieve this volume, they said.
Meanwhile, rival LG Display, which offers white (W)-OLED panels, is aiming to ship 10 million units this year.
The company is offering more affordable W-OLED panels such as those with 60Hz refresh rate to expand its share in the OLED TV space.
It has a total capacity of 170,000 substrates per month, near six times that of Samsung Display, from its facilities in South Korea and China.
Samsung Display could also decide to not to expand QD-OLED production and instead jump to QD nanorod LED (QNED) panels instead.
This will depend on how much QD-OLED Samsung Electronics, Samsung Display’s biggest customer, decides to buy going forward.