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Xiamen Tianma Display Technology begins to ship flexible OLED panels

China-based Xiamen Tianma Display Technology (Tianma Display) began to ship flexible OLED panels used in smartphones and wearable devices in August 2022, according to industry sources.

Being a joint-venture maker established in January 2020 by China-based panel maker Tianma Microelectronics, Tianma Display in October 2020 began to construct a 6th-generation (6G) flexible AMOLED (active matrix OLED) panel factory with an investment of CNY 48 billion (US$6.95 billion), with the factory being the largest one of its kind in China, the sources said.

Tianma Display started production of flexible OLED panels in February 2022 and since then it has kept increasing utilization of production capacity and improving yield rates, the sources noted. Tianma's beginning shipments of flexible OLED panels will help Tianma Microelectronics increase its global market share for OLED panels.

Tianma Microelectronics recently began to use CFOT (color filter on touch) technology in place of polarizers in production of OLED panels, the sources indicated. By virtue of the technology, OLED panels have higher light penetration, lower power consumption, higher color purity, and better color performance and will be used in foldable smartphones, automotive displays and notebooks, the sources said. In addition, the use of the technology enhances flexibility and rollability of OLED panels.

Tianma Display will begin production of foldable OLED panels in 2023 and Tianma Microelectronics is increasing production at its 6G OLED panel factory in central China, the sources cited Tianma Microelectronics chairman Peng Xuhui as indicating.

According to Omdia, Tianma Microelectronics and China-based BOE Technology, China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT) and Visionox Technology together had a global market share of 20.5% for OLED panels in the second quarter of 2022, rising 2.8 percentage points on year.

BOE has become a supplier of OLED panels used in iPhone 14, with its share in 2022 estimated at 5%, the sources noted. In addition, BOE has already supplied smartphone-use OLED panels for Samsung Electronics as well as China-based Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Honor, the sources indicated. In 2021, BOE shipped over 60 million flexible OLED panels of which 55 million were used in smartphones, hiking over 65% on year.

BOE currently has three OLED panel factories each with a monthly production capacity equivalent to 48,000 glass substrates, the sources said. Besides, BOE plans to set up a fourth OLED panel factory and considers investment in 8.6G OLED panel factories.

CSOT has fully utilized first-phase production capacity at its 6G LTPS (low-temperature polysilicon) OLED panel factory and has completed production capacity in the second and third phases, the sources noted. Besides, CSOT is poised to produce TV- and IT-use printing-type rollable OLED panels at its 8.5G factory in southern China, the sources indicated. The company ranked globally fourth in first-quarter 2022 shipment for smartphone-use flexible OLED panels.

Visionox has been extending application of flexible OLED panels from smartphones to automotive displays and notebooks and has been in R&D of double layer-stacked OLED panels and under-display lens solutions for use in notebook-use OLED panels, the sources said. Visionox saw 2021 shipments from its 5.5G OLED panel factory increase 56% on year and those from its 6G one hike 140%, the sources noted.

Faced with increasing competition in OLED panel market from China-based makers, Samsung Display ended production of LCD panels in June 2022 and has focused on production of QD(quantum dot)-OLED panels, while LG Display is gradually reducing production of LCD panels to zero in 2023 and, on the other hand, will expand OLED panel production capacity.

Despite active production of OLED panels, China-based makers are still striving to break even, particularly for such production, the sources indicated. Besides, they are under pressure of slowing growth in OLED panel shipment because OLED panels are mostly used in smartphones and global demand for smartphones has turned weak mainly due to impact of inflation, the sources analyzed.