The first organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display panels produced using an inkjet process for sale commercially were introduced this week by Japan-based JOLED with initial shipments reportedly headed to Sony for use in medical monitors.

According to reports out of Japan, the delivery marks the first commercial release of inkjet produced OLED displays, and is an indication that television-sized OLED panels made with the process eventually will be coming to increase volume and reduce TV-sized OLED panel prices, potentially by as much as 30-40 percent.

JOLED is a company that was established in 2014 through a merger of the OLED development operations of Panasonic and Sony. However, high debt loads and slumping profitability forced both companies to sell off portions of their holdings in the operation to Japan Display, which recently declined to take on a planned majority position in the company.

As a result, JOLED is looking for $900 million in funding to advance its inkjet OLED mass production efforts, according to reports out of Japan.

Read more on JOLED’s first inkjet 4K OLED panel shipment after the jump:

The JOLED panels use inkjet printing techniques pioneered a decade earlier for the application by Panasonic to reduce production costs from thermal evaporation processes used for most OLED manufacturing today.

Although other companies are working on similar solutions, the JOLED operation is billed as having all of the necessary component technologies in house.

According to Japanese reports, the JOLED panels are lightweight and provide excellent color reproduction. In addition to medical monitors, finished device applications are expected to target broadcast monitors, and screens for airplanes and trains.

Yoneharu Takubo, chief technology officer of JOLED, reportedly said the company may supply TV panel makers as well, with the company having achieved the necessary product quality and production yields. However, current screen sizes are considerably smaller than those made and marketed for 4K OLED TVs by LG.Display.

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JOLED began production of the panels in June, and produced the first 4K Ultra HD samples measuring 21.6 inches, with the intention of beginning low-volume manufacturing at a 4.5-Gen pilot inkjet line.

The panels reportedly offer 3840 x 2160 resolution, 204 PPI and a brightness of 350 nits. Panel thickness measures 0.05 inches and the weight is 1.1 pounds.

Japan Display recently decided to halt its plans to turn its minority stake in JOLED into a majority one by investing in the ramp-up effort that was to begin production at a Japan Display LCD panel plant in 2019. As a result, JOLED is now soliciting nearly $900 million in funding from Sumitomo Chemical, one of its P-OLED materials suppliers, and Screen Holdings, a display and semiconductor manufacturing equipment maker.

Also this week, following its recent return to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Sharp told Reuters that it is going to ask the Japanese government to help it form an alliance with Japan Display, and is considering an investment in JOLED.

Sharp announced in October 2016 that it planned to invest $570 million to build OLED pilot lines at its plants in Osaka and in the Mie Prefecture. Those lines are to begin production in 2018.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, JOLED has also approached Sony, Canon, Fujifilm, and Nikon for investments before looking for Chinese investors.


By Greg Tarr


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