Samsung Display begins testing of the next generation QD OLED production line

Samsung Display will begin test operation of the quantum dot (QD)-organic light-emitting diode (OLED) production line in early next month. Withdrawing from the large-sized liquid crystal display (LCD) business and setting a turning point to enter the next-generation QD display.

According to the industry on the 27th, Samsung Display is scheduled to enter the test operation of the 8.5G (2200x2500mm) QD-OLED Q1 production line in Asan, Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea on the 7th of next month. It has been 5 months since the QD display facility installation in July. At the time, Samsung Display had announced that it would complete the line installation in the second half of the year and mass-produce QD displays next year.

Samsung Display’s Q1 production line trial operation marked a turning point for its large panel business to switch from LCD to QD display. Samsung Display maintains its dominant share in the small and medium-sized OLED market, but is in need of securing a new source of sales in the large panel division. Samsung’s existing dominance in the large LCD panel market has been lost to the Chinese industry players such as BOE, which has been aggressive with low prices.

If Samsung Display mass-produces QD-OLED panels next year as scheduled, it will have OLED panel production capacity in both small and medium-sized and large-sized sectors. Currently, only LG Display is producing large OLED panels. The growth rate of the large OLED panel market is also expected to be determined by the evaluation of Samsung Display’s QD-OLED products. It could also increase the technology gap between Chinese panel makers, mainly LCD makers, and Korean makers.

Samsung Display’s Q1 line is expected to take three and six months, respectively, to secure process conditions and stabilize production yields by entering test production next month. The 8.5th generation QD-OLED panel is not a product previously mass-produced by Samsung Display, so process conditions must be secured. The Q1 line is expected to first produce 15,000 (15K) sheets out of 30,000 (30K) sheets per month based on the input of original plates.

Further investment in QD-OLED is also expected to be decided in May next year. Only when the production yield of the Q1 line is stabilized prospects such as Samsung Electronics and Sony can be secured as QD-OLED customers. If the performance and yield of QD-OLED products do not meet the customer’s expectations, there is a prospect that the investment in QD nanorod light emitting diodes (QNED) will be shifted to QD nanorod light emitting diode (QNED) investment rather than additional QD-OLED investment. This is because of the fact that Samsung Electronics is not actively adopting QD-OLED panels.

Samsung Electronics, which plans to ship about 2 million mini-light-emitting diode (LED) TVs next year, will skip QD-OLED technology if mini-LED TVs stand up against LG Electronics OLED TVs in the top premium TV segment for the next two to three years. It is believed that they may wait until the commercialization of QNED technology. Mini LED TVs are similar in structure to existing LCD TVs, which can lead to OLED TVs price competitiveness.

Earlier, Samsung Display announced in October of last year that it would invest 1.3 trillion won in next-generation QD displays. QD display is a concept that includes both QD-OLED and QNED. Samsung Display removed some facilities of the L8 line, which makes LCD panels for TVs, and proceeded with the clean room construction required for the Q1 line. In July, starting with the installation of  8.5th generation Japanese Canon Toki evaporator, the facility began the installation process in earnest.

Samsung Display plans to shut down most of its existing LCD production lines by March next year. Initially, the plan was to withdraw from the LCD business within this year, but as the demand for LCD TV panels increased in the second half of the year due to lockdown impact and prices rose, the LCD line operation period was extended at the request of  customers.