Samsung Display to start trial runs for QD-OLED line

Samsung Display will begin trail runs of its production line for Quantum Dot (QD) displays next month, TheElec has learned.

The line, dubbed Q1, at its factory in Asan, was designed to produce QD-OLED(organic light emitting diode) panels. QD-OLED will be the first iteration of Samsung Display’s so-called QD displays.

The company put in the necessary equipment to produce QD-OLED panels back in July. At the time, Samsung Display said it will wrap up building the line by the end of the year and begin mass production in 2021.

The Q1 line is an 8.5th generation line (2,200×2,500mm)

Samsung Display dominates the small OLED sector for smartphones but it is in need of a new revenue stream in large panels. Its liquid crystal display (LCD) business has fallen behind Chinese rivals such as BOE who have aggressively expanded their share with price-competitiveness.

LG Display has been the sole producer of large OLED panels so far. Samsung Display’s success in QD-OLED will determine how much the large OLED panel sector grows going forward.

From December, it will take Samsung Display around 3 months to properly set-up the necessary steps for production and around 6 months to stabilize yield rate.

Q1 is expected to operate at a rate of 15,000 substrates per month in the beginning. It has a capacity of 30,000 substrates.

Whether Samsung Display decides put in additional investments into QD-OLED will be determined in May. It needs to stabilize yield rate to clinch customers such as Samsung Electronics and Sony. 

If the yield rate is too low or QD-OLED isn’t up to the standard of customers, Samsung Display will likely shift additional investments into QD nanorod LED (QNED) technology instead.

Samsung Electronics has so far not been receptive towards Samsung Display’s pitch for QD-OLED.

Samsung Electronics is planning to ship 2 million miniLED TVs next year. The South Korean tech giant expects the models to be sufficient to stand toe-to-toe with LG’s OLED TV in the premium sector for the next two to three years. If this pans out, it will likely shift to QNED more aggressively rather than put too much efforts in QD-OLED.

Last year in October, Samsung Display said it will invest 13.1 trillion won into QD display. QD display includes both QD-OLED and QNED. 

It is planning to halt all LCD production by March. It was planning to end it within the year but COVID-19 has caused demand and price for LCD TVs to rise. Its customers have asked the firm to extend the production date, which Samsung Display complied to.