Japan takes lead in OLED manufacturing equipment

While Taiwan and Korea are expected to remaine the dominant places where current and next-generation flat panel displays will be built, Japan has positioned itself become the dominant supplier for equipment used for manufacturing Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) displays.

According to a report released by iSuppli, Japanese suppliers have leveraged their strengths in semiconductor and TFT-LCD manufacturing gear to gain the early lead in the OLED equipment market. The OLED market still is in a nascent stage, but promises explosive growth in coming years, the market research firm said. OLED unit sales expected to expand by a factor of 11 during the next six years, as their use expands in mobile phones, media players and other products.

Tokki and Ulvac lead the OLED race, according to iSuppli. Companies including DaiNippon Screen and Hitachi are offering R&D or pilot-scale equipment. In a bid to retain their advantage in this area, the Japanese are keeping many of their OLED secrets close to the vest. Having lost much of their manufacturing advantage in TFT-LCDs to Korean and Taiwanese companies over the last decade, Japanese companies have become more cautious. While this may help maintain Japan's lead in the short term, the lack of communications between Japan's equipment and panel makers and the rest of the industry is slowing the development and standardization of OLED equipment, iSuppli believes. (THG)