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EETE DECEMBER 2012

OLEDs to face stiff competition from classic LEDs By Christoph Hammerschmidt until now, oled revenue has been driven mainly by portunity for numerous players involved in OLED Research & display applications, but the industry is now targeting the light- Development activities. However, the identification of winning ing market based on the technology specificities in terms of technology approaches and the precise identification of the design (form factor) and efficiency. In this market however, the corresponding time-to-market are essential for the successful OLED technology will encounter a formidable competitor in the development of the OLED lighting business. established LED technology, finds Yole Developpement. A Yole To fully compete with LED technology and obtain the full report published by Global Informations describes the conse- benefits of OLEDs at a reasonable cost, new business models quences. LED technology has already paved the way with a are mandatory: the traditional lighting industry will be reluctant revolution in Solid State Lighting (SSL) that has drawn attention to integrate new technology as it could eat away at margins away from OLED over the last 10 years. Added to that, the high cost of OLED technology will not make mass market penetration easier and current low efficacy could slow adoption, the market researchers predict. oleds will develop slowly in the lighting market and at- tract mainly niche applications in specialty and high-end lighting. In these application fields, OLEDs will differentiate through design pos- sibilities. To access traditional mar- ket segments such as commercial lighting or office lighting, OLED technology will have to find a spark, as well as combine enough different niche markets to achieve the economies of scale that will decrease costs. In the estimation or the Yole market researchers, this should be triggered by 2014 with the use of larger substrates and better process control. Yole estimates that OLED lighting panels will reach a market since OLED cost directly impacts the cost of OLED-based lumi- size of nearly $2.8M in 2012 and will peak to nearly $1.7B by naires. Added to that, these players will also have to integrate 2020. Growth will be driven mainly by General Lighting applica- technology for which they have no know-how and which is tions, representing more than 70% of the overall OLED lighting outside of their expertise. So the question is: Will these play- business in 2020. ers be ready to accept decreases in revenue and increases As for any emerging technology, a large variety of materials in production difficulty simply to aid the deployment of a new and OLED structures are used in production or tested. More- technology? From the perspective of the market researchers, over, alternatives to existing materials are still actively re- the logical answer is no. searched in order to improve the light performance, lifetime, and For that reason, development of OLED technology in the decrease manufacturing costs. Although the uncertainty about lighting market will be difficult and will force actors at the bot- the future winning material approach between small-molecule tom of the supply chain to realize vertical integration in order to oled materials and polymer materials remains, polymers con- push the technology on the market. But accessing distribution tinue to struggle to demonstrate the ability to turn their cost and channels will represent the big challenge for those players who performance potential into an industrial reality. will have to develop new approaches to sell their lighting prod- rigid glass maintains its exclusivity as a substrate material ucts. The rise of OLED lighting will therefore depend on the right in OLED lighting panel production. However, progress has been merger of the emerging OLED industry with the traditional light- made in the development of techniques, such as roll-to-roll ing industry. Moreover, for General Lighting, the main challenge processing, the development of flexible ultra-thin glass and flex- for OLEDs will be to identify the “spark” market that will allow ible encapsulation solutions, which will enable the progressive the technology to develop economies of scale and to create a penetration of flexible OLED panels into the lighting market. marketing window conveying advantages and possibilities of The wide variety of technology approaches provides op- the technology toward consumers. www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe December 2012 15


EETE DECEMBER 2012
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