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Digitimes Insight: Earthquake may impact entry-level OLED applications
Jessie Lin, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei [Monday 28 March 2011]

The massive earthquake and tsunami that struck the northeast coast of Japan have not had significant impact on OLED material supply, but may affect entry-level OLED panel applications, according to Digitimes Research.

Japan-based players have been developing OLED materials for a long time with Sumitomo Chemical and Showa Denko in the polymer materials segment, Idemitsu Kosan and Mitsui Chemicals in the small molecule segment and TDK Micro Device in the passive matrix OLED (PMOLED) panel segment.

TDK Micro Device's facilities located in Ibaraki Prefecture saw partial equipment damage due to the tremor. But the impact on the PMOLED market may be minimal, as Taiwan-based RiTdisplay is the leading PMOLED supplier worldwide.

Although the quake has had limited impact on the supply of polymer materials from Sumitomo, the company's R&D schedule is expected to be affected. Sumitomo has a total of nine plants in Japan, of which the Misawa and Chiba plants are closer to the disaster areas. Although no damage to building and equipment has been reported, production is expected to be affected by the rolling black-outs.

Sumitomo mainly produces OLED polymer materials at its Osaka plant, which is away from the disaster areas, and supply of OLED materials will be little affected.

Fellow polymer material supplier Showa has been hit more by the quake, and shipments to its clients may be affected.

Idemitsu is seeing more impacts from the transportation and power supply issues, while Mitsui has not been significantly affected by the earthquake. Although more players are adopting small molecule in the current OLED industry, the earthquake will only have limited effects on the supply, as there are other suppliers, such as US-based Universal Display Corporation (UDC).

Damage to Japan-based OLED suppliers

Supplier

Technology/production

Impact on production

Impact on industry

Panel

TDK Micro Device

PM OLED panel

Partial damage to equipment at Ibaraki Prefecture; production suspended

Production mainly for PMOLED; only affects to entry-level applications

Polymer Material

Sumitomo

Polymer materials for OLED, mainly for lighting and display application;
acquisition of UK-based fellow supplier CDT in 2007

Osaka production plant away from the disaster area;
partial damage to plant at Tsukuba research center in Ibaraki Prefecture

Limited impact on material supply;
to affect its own OLED R&D schedule

Showa

Polymer materials for OLED;
In addition to display application; cross-licensing with US-based UDC for white OLED lighting technology

Chiba plant suspended from March 14-16, resumed production on March 17; to prioritize production for basic chemical products

Shipments to polymer material users to be affected; but small molecule material is more popular in the industry

Small molecule

Idemitsu

Small molecule OLED materials;
cooperation with Sony in OLED display

No equipment damage at Chiba plant despite level-5 quake; to be affected by transportation and power supply issues

Company is estimating its material inventory, and may suspend production if material inventory is insufficient

Mitsui

Small molecule OLED materials;
cooperation with Idemitsu for OLED material development

Osaka plant is away from disaster areas and not affected

none

Source: Companies, compiled by Digitimes, March 2011

Earthquake impact on TDK's OLED subsidiaries

Plant

Location

Production

Situation as of March 15

Narita

TDK

Narita, Chiba Prefecture

Metal magnet

Ready to restart production, but may be affected by rolling black-outs

Kofu

TDK

Minami-Alps, Yamanashi Prefecture

Thin film and silicon component

Ready to restart production, but may be affected by rolling black-outs

Technical Center

TDK

Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture

Component development

Operation continues, but may be affected by rolling black-outs

Media Tech

Subsidiary

Chuo, Yamanashi Prefecture

Magnet tape for data backup, video for TV broadcasting company

Ready to restart production, but may be affected by rolling black-outs

TDK Micro

Subsidiary

Kitaibarai, Ibaraki Prefecture

OLED

Suspended for damage inspection

Source: Company, compiled by Digitimes, March 2011

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