Samsung Electronics Looking into Making an Investment in Plant and Equipment Next year for Mass-Production of microLEDs

Dec 18, 2019

Samsung Electronics is currently looking to making an investment in plant and equipment during the first-half of next year to start mass-producing microLEDs. Although it has yet to decided on the exact size of an investment or its goal on an output, level of expectations is starting to grow with relevant microLED equipment manufacturers at the center. Because the exact size of an investment can be estimated once Samsung Electronics decides on the exact scale of annual production, relevant industries are paying close attention towards Samsung Electronics’ strategy in microLED production next year.
According to the industry, Samsung Electronics is currently finishing up evaluating the performance of domestic and foreign equipment related to microLED. It is sharing its schedule on microLED production with its partners as it looks to make an investment in plant and equipment during the first-half of next year.
“Samsung Electronics has been testing the performance and the quality of key equipment as it looks to make an investment in plant and equipment during the first-half of next year.” said a representative for an equipment manufacturer.
“Samsung Electronics informed us that it is looking to make an investment in plant and equipment during the first-half of next year.” said a representative for a different equipment manufacturer. “We are currently waiting on Samsung Electronics as it has yet to decide on the exact scale of production.”
It seems that Samsung Electronics will decide on the size of an investment and the schedule after CES2020 that will be held in the U.S. in January. It is understood that Samsung Electronics will decide on the specifications of microLED that will be introduced during CES2020 and the size of production and others afterwards.

Samsung Electronics’ 75-inch microLED introduced during a first look event that was held right before CES 2019 (Staff Reporter Yoon, Seonghyeok | shyoon@etnews.com) <Samsung Electronics’ 75-inch microLED introduced during a first look event that was held right before CES 2019 (Staff Reporter Yoon, Seonghyeok | shyoon@etnews.com)>

There are different opinions within the industry towards Samsung Electronics’ investment in mass-production of microLED. Many believe that the level of mass-production of microLED will not meet the level of mass-production of regular TVs since the level of Samsung Electronics’ technology in producing microLEDs is still not complete. On the other hand, some believe that Samsung Electronics has raised the level of its technology in producing microLEDs significantly so that the price of single microLED chip can be set less than $86,000 (100 million KRW).
“Even if the price of single microLED chip drops to a ‘reasonable’ level, it is inevitable that price gap will be significant considering the fact that TFT (Thin-Film Transistor) technology is still not stabilized and production costs of key processes that will be introduced for the first time.” said an expert from the display industry. “Just as there have been rumors about mass-production of microLEDs last year and this year, chance that there will be a change next year is low.”
On the other hand, Samsung Electronics’ partners have high expectations on a possibility that Samsung Electronics will make an investment next year. Even if Samsung Electronics’ investment is not a large one, they will be able to grab upper hands of the new market if Samsung Electronics does make an investment.
“If our products are used for producing microLEDs, we will be able to gain a favorable position when it comes to supplying our products to Samsung Electronics and foreign companies.” said a representative for an equipment manufacturer. “Because Samsung Electronics is also very confident internally that it has greatly improved its technical skill in microLED production, we believe that there is a very good chance that Samsung Electronics will carry out its investment next year.”
Some say that Samsung Electronics’ investment in microLED will have limited effects on South Korean companies because it is currently receiving key components for LED chip and TFT from Taiwan and Japan respectively. Although it can receive some inspection equipment and repair equipment from South Korean companies to increase production yield, there is a possibility that it will look to use equipment from foreign companies since microLED production is still at an early stage.
Staff Reporter Bae, Okjin | withok@etnews.com

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