For a number of years Korea has been firmly established as a global production base for core display materials. This is partly due to intense competition in the industry between the two domestic heavyweights LG and Samsung. Chinese display makers are making aggressive investments in the sector, but investments in the materials and components for next-generation display are still concentrated in Korea, and China has some way to catch up the the levels of quality and brand recognition that are enjoyed by the Korean manufactures.
But it isn't just the big boys who are helping to maintain Korea's dominant position. According to the industry on September 29, the local subsidiary of Nippon Electric Glass (NEG), Electric Glass Korea (EG Korea), will complete the construction of the substrate glass production plan for LCD and OLED and start operation next month. Accordingly, NGE, which consigns the post-processing to LG and its joint venture Paju Electric Glass, will start glass production in Korea.
Nippon Electric Glass (NEG) follows both Corning and Asahi, which have already started production in Korea, and this means that the top three global substrate glass makers have local production facilities. Corning is producing substrate glass in Korea in a joint venture with Samsung. LCD glass is produced and supplied by Samsung Corning Precision Materials, whereas OLED glass is produced and supplied by Samsung Corning Advanced Glass. Japan’s Asahi supplies glass to both Samsung and LG.
The Korean production system is also in place for other core OLED materials. Japanese materials company, Idemitsu Kosan, began producing PLED materials in Korea last year. For now they will produce for the Chinese display market from the Korean plant.
Dow Chemical has also built an OLED materials production system in Cheoan and is planning to set up a production facility for quantum dot (QD) materials, regarded as the next-generation display, in Korea.
Flexible display substrate polyimide (PI) is also produced in Korea.
Japan’s Ube Industries joined forces with Samsung Display to establish a Korean subsidiary, SU Materials, who developed and manufactured PI for flexible substrates, and is supplying Samsung.
“Even though the display market is in a recession, expectations are high for the future market,” said an industry insider. “China is making aggressive investments, but investments are still made in Korea for production of core materials.”