LG Display announced Friday the official opening its 8.5-generation OLED panel production plant in Guangzhou, China.

The 8.5-Gen plant will produce mother glass OLED sheets measuring 2,200mm x 2,500mm and will “usher in an era of producing 10 million large-size OLED panels a year.”

LG Display said the new plant started mass-production this month and will mainly manufacture large-size high-resolution OLED products including 55-inch, 65-inch and 77-inch panels.

“The initial monthly capacity will be 60,000 sheets, which will be further expanded to 90,000 sheets by 2021,” the company said.

LG Display expects to produce over 10 million OLED panels a year by 2022. At that time the monthly capacity of 90,000 sheets will be combined with the 70,000 sheets currently manufactured at its OLED panel plant in Paju, Korea, as well as an additional 45,000 sheets to be produced at its 10.5-Gen (2,940mm x 3,370mm) plant in Paju from 2022.

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The new 8.5-Gen OLED panel plant is operated by LG Display High-Tech China (LG Display High-Tech China Co., Ltd, LGDCO), which is a joint venture between LG Display and Guangzhou Development District (GDD), the company said. LG Display holds a 70% stake with a $2.15 billion (US dollars) capital investment.

In a statement annoucing the plant opening, Dr. Sang Beom Han, LG Display CEO and Vice Chairman, said “Based on our vast experience and capability in OLED production, LG Display will make every effort to ensure the success of LG Display High-Tech China. With our dual OLED panel production sites in Korea and China, the company will further accelerate the OLED trend in the global premium TV market by providing large-size OLED panels to the world.”

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The new 8.5 Gen OLED panel plant is built on a tract of land that is said to be the equivalent of around 10 football fields. The plant consists of nine levels above ground. The total area of the LG Display Guangzhou Cluster, which includes LCD panel and module plants, partner company complexes and additional facilities, amounts to 13.4 million square feet, the company said.

LG said that “as many companies are not able to mass-produce large-size OLED panels due to technical limitations, LG Display, the pioneer and only manufacturer of large-size OLED panels in the world, plans to further widen the gap with its competitors and strengthen its leading position starting from the operation of its Guangzhou OLED plant. Given that LG Display’s customers, including LG Electronics, Sony, Philips, Hisense, Skyworth, Changhong, and Konka, operate TV production plants in China, the company will further boost its competitiveness by providing technology and products in a timely manner.”

Citing market forecasts from IHS Markit, LG Display said global sales of OLED TVs in 2020 are expected to reach 5.5 million units and further increase to 7.1 million units in 2021 and 10 million units in 2022.

The production uptick, the company said, has been driven by the growing number of global TV brands manufacturing OLED TVs.

“The total number of those brands is now 15 worldwide and will reach 16 in 2020 when the largest TV maker in the U.S., Vizio, joins the trend,” LG Display said.

LG Display said OLED TV panel sales rose to 2.9 million units in 2018 and yet another increase to 3.8 million units is anticipated in 2019. Based on this, LG Display expects its large-size OLED panel business to turn to profitability on an annual basis for the first time this year.

LG Display’s large-size OLED panel production capacity will further increase upon startup of the 10.5 Gen OLED panel production line at its P10 plant in Paju, Korea in 2022. To this end, the company recently announced an additional investment of $2.48 billion into the 10.5-Gen production line. LG Display said this will help improve productivity and profitability via economies of scale, thereby advancing the OLED era.

By Greg Tarr

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