Panasonic Invests up to S$416 million in OLEDs

Panasonic ElugaOLED 350 Panasonic Invests up to S$416 million in OLEDs

We all know that OLED technology is taking ages to become mainstream technology and it is still not there yet. However, Panasonic is investing up to $370 million (S$416M) to build the sixth generation pilot and 8.5 generation of OLED R&D manufacturing lines.

Over the past couple of months, we've seen more activity around OLED technology than ever before. For example, Samsung Electronics recently spun off its LCD and Plasma making business into a separate business unit (Samsung Display), but kept OLED R&D and manufacturing lines close to its chest.

Not to be undone, we've seen reports that Panasonic is investing between 245-370 million US dollars (S$305-416 million) in building sixth generation OLED TV production line in Himeji, Japan. This is an extension of an already large facility in Himeji, which manufactures majority of LCD panels for Panasonic. To make matters more interesting, Himeji is also home to a pilot Gen-8.5 R&D line, which is deemed to be the first OLED generation for true mass-manufacturing. Panasonic is working closely with the largest suppliers of OLED materials; Japanese Mitsubishi Chemicals and American DuPont.

Panasonic Eluga Panasonic Invests up to S$416 million in OLEDs

Besides consumer products such as the Eluga smartphone, TV and PC displays, Panasonic also sees a large business opportunity in OLED lighting. It is unclear which of the manufacturing generations will end up being used for OLED lighting business, and which for consumer products. According to a Panasonic representative, OLED panels will come to market in 2013, and we should see OLED dominating the smartphone and PC space by 2015.

OLED technology (i.e. Organic Light Emitting Diode) is considered as a cornerstone technology for development of big screen compute devices. The development of technology started back in 1950s, with the first organic diode coming to life in 1987, thanks to Eastman Kodak. Current OLED technology is available as AMOLED and OLED, and powers the most attractive smartphones on the market, such as Samsung Galaxy SII and its successor, SIII. Key advantages of the OLED technology are true black, better color reproduction, less lighting bleed and of course, the ever-important power consumption.