“Enabling large scale microLED displays manufacturing requires to bring together three major disparate know-how and supply chain bricks including LED manufacturing, display manufacturing and technology transfer & assembly”, asserts Dr Eric Virey, Senior Technology & Market Analyst at Yole Développement (Yole).
According to the market research firm, the microLED displays supply chain is still under construction with participants having to find the way to collaborate together and define the most efficient manufacturing approach.
“Even if the remaining technology roadblocks are removed, no company beside Apple and its startup Luxvue acquired in 2014 currently appear to have the positioning and leverage to enable the supply chain,” comments Yole’s expert. So what could happen?
If successful, microLED displays could have a profound impact on both the LED and display supply chains, The supply chain is complex and lengthy compared with that of traditional displays. Each process is critical and managing every aspect effectively will be challenging.
“No single player can solve all the issues and it seems unlikely that any will fully vertically integrate”, says Virey. According to the analyst, small companies could bring together the different technologies to serve the AR/MR market, but for high volume consumer applications such as mobiles or TVs, only a strong push from a leading OEM can enable a supply chain. In that respect, Apple has a unique market position and appears to be the most likely candidate with enough leverage and financial strength to bring all the partners together. Other candidates including Oculus for example, have also invested in microLEDs for AR/MR applications, but what will be the next step?
Of course, each company will attempt to capture as much added value as it can. For LED makers, low defect requirements and the high resolution features of microLEDs mean large investments in new clean room and lithography equipment which might be better suited to CMOS foundries.
Traditional display makers are used to manufacturing both back and front planes in an integrated fashion to deliver finished panels to OEMs. With microLEDs, they will push back against becoming component suppliers, only providing a TFT backplane to whoever will produce the final display assembly: the OEMs or the OSATs.
In parallel, some companies will benefit from microLED displays, regardless of how the supply chain is shaped. These beneficiaries include MOCVD reactor and other LED equipment manufacturers as well as wafer suppliers.
The science is here… So what’s missing?
Based on its latest microLED display technology & market report , Yole proposes a live event titled Microled Displays: hype and reality | Hopes & challenges. Taking place on March 29 at 5:00 PM CET this webcast invites Dr Eric Virey from Yole to expose the technical challenges and market opportunities of the microLED technologies. To discover the program and register, click MicroLED Displays.