LG Display will invest 3.3 trillion won by 2024 to expand its capacity to produce small and medium-sized OLED panels, which have enjoyed a boom since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The company announced on Aug. 17 that its board approved the investment plan in a meeting on Aug. 13. Previously, LG Display invested 7.8 trillion won in production facilities for small and large OLED panels in 2017. This investment plan is the second largest in the company’s history.
"We will build a 6th-generation (1,500mm x 1,850mm) OLED panel production line at Paju Plant in Gyeonggi Province." said a company official. "The line will have a production capacity of 60,000 small and medium-sized OLED panels per month."
Industry insiders say that LG Display’s investment plan is designed to increase its competitiveness by applying the know-how it has accumulated in large OLED TV panel production to small and medium-sized panels.
Mobile, tablet and electronic displays are all included in the small and medium-sized OLED markets. Among them, the mobile sector is increasing the use of OLED panels, in particular, for premium smartphones.
Omdia, a global market research firm, predicted that shipments of OLED panels for smartphones will increase from 560 million units in 2021 to 770 million units in 2025. However, LG Display's market share in this field is small compared to its competitor Samsung Display. Samsung Display once enjoyed a share of up to 90 percent of the market, but recently its share inched down to the 80 percent range due to Chinese companies’ pursuit. On the other hand, LG Display’s share is staying in the early and mid-10 percent range.
Some analysts say that Apple’s adaption of small and medium-sized OLED panels for its iPhone 12 may have had a big impact on LG Display's decision to invest in related production lines. Apple will load OLED panels into the iPhone 13 to be released in the second half of 2021 and gave LG Display an order to produce 50 million units, 30 percent of all of 169 million units which Apple needs.
Lastly, another axis of the small and medium OLED markets, P-OLED (Plastic OLED) panels for automotive electrics, is also a sector that LG Display is paying much attention to. Although P-OLED panels that can bend as they were loaded with plastic substrates, has a small share in the market, they are drawing attention as indispensable part of the future automotive market. It is also highly likely that LG Display will be able to expand its business through cooperation with other LG Group affiliates in the automotive electronics business.