The Guangzhou fab is owned by China Star Optoelectronics Technology, a display manufacturer that’s co-owned by TCL, Century Science & Technology Investment and Samsung Display. That company has reportedly made a 46 billion yuan (£5.26 billion) investment in a new production line at the facility and will begin construction in 2021, according to Chinese media reports that were first seen by OLED-info. Work on the new production line should be completed by 2023, and it’s hoped that it will be up and running one year later.
The report notes that TCL has had a long interest in using inkjet printing to manufacture OLED displays. The method is far more accurate than the evaporation process used by LG Display, which currently makes the vast majority of OLED panels used in televisions. The evaporation process involves depositing organic materials onto a glass sheet through a thin metal stencil, but leads to a significant amount of material being wasted. Inkjet printing on the other hand allows the organic materials to be deposited with greater precision, boosting production yields and wasting far less material in the process.
TCL’s interest in inkjet printing first became apparent in 2016 when it established a company called Junhua Printing to try and develop the technique for manufacturing OLED panels.
More recently, in June, TCL announced it was investing £144.6 million into the Japanese inkjet printing producer JOLED and signing an agreement with it to jointly develop OLED TV printing technologies.
That was an interesting development because JOLED has already made substantial progress of its own, and currently sells a number of inkjet printed OLED displays for use in monitors, automotive displays and signage. It showed off its first prototype inkjet printed OLED TV panels in 2018, but hasn’t yet brought these to market,
What isn’t clear from OLED-info’s report is if the CSOT OLED inkjet printing project is related to TCL’s work with Junhua Printing or JOLED, or if the initiative is a separate project.