Samsung Display and LG Display, for front-end manufacturing process of flexible OLED panels, still have to rely on imported organic materials used in vapor deposition, but the reliance is decreasing through Samsung Group's and LG Group's mergers with and stake investment in foreign enterprises to obtain relevant patents for self-production of such materials by Samsung SDI and LG Chem respectively, according to Digitimes Research.
Front-end manufacturing process mainly consists of a TFT back plane and vapor deposition of organic materials, Digitimes Research indicated. For making TFT back planes, Samsung Display and LG Display procure PI (polyimide) varnish from Japan-based Ube Industries and metal target materials, thinner, etching solution and lift-off solution mainly from South Korea-based ENF Technology, Dongjin Semicom and Dongwoo Fine-Chem.
For vapor deposition of organic materials, Japan-based Idemitsu Kosan, US-based Universal Display Corp. (UDC) and Dow Chemical and Germany-based Merck are the main suppliers. However, Samsung Group has merged with Germany-based Novaled GmbH to obtain patented technologies of key OLED materials and has invested in Sun Fine Chem, a subsidiary of Japan-based Hodogaya Chemical, for technological cooperation.
For the back-end manufacturing process of flexible OLED panels, Samsung Display and LG Display procure high-temperature thin film from 3M and cover glass from Corning, with most of other materials supplied by South Korea-based makers.