Nov 13, 2017: The Electronic & Optoelectronic System Research Lab under the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has started building a micro-LED pilot line, which will start operating in 3Q18, and manufacture micro-LEDs for Taiwan-based VR companies, said Chih-I Wu, Vice President and Gen. Director, ITRI, at the event 2017 Micro-LED International Symposium, co-organized by ITRI and Consortium for Intelligent Micro-assembly System (CIMS). The event addressed the challenges of micro-LED manufacturing, particularly the issue of mass transfer and repair cost.
According to LEDinside, a micro-LED pilot line, which includes the production of LED chip and modularization process, would cost NTD 200 million (US$ 6.62 million), compared with NTD 50-60 billion (US$ 1.655-1.986 billion) which is required to construct a LCD or OLED production line.
At the event, Chih-I Wu, Vice President and Gen. Director, ITRI, said that when micro-LED gets commercialized, it will mainly be used in applications like large-sized digital displays, and in small gadgets like AR/VR devices.
According to Chih-I Wu, the pilot line will be capable of handling 50*50 (2500 chips) area per transfer and will be able to deal with 100*100 (10,000 chips) transfer. It is expected to supply micro-LEDs to VR companies in Taiwan by the end of 3Q18.
The event also addressed the repair cost. Chih-I Wu said that the higher the yield, the lower the would be the repair cost. Despite the cost, pixels of micro-LED display are fixable in comparison to those of LCD and OLED displays.
As there are many technological barriers to manufacture micro-LED, companies in Taiwan choose to focus on mini-LED, which is slightly larger than micro-LED.
In April 2017, Taiwanese LED driver IC supplier Macroblock and ITRI signed a ‘Micro-LED Digital Display Cooperation agreement to develop micro-LED driver ICs.
In April 2017, it was also in news that Apple would start low-volume micro-LED production in its plant in Taoyuan, Taiwan, by the end of 2017, and mass production would begin in 2018 with an aim to use these displays in future smart watch devices.
Micro-LED are suitable for use in indoor displays with ultra-small spacing. It is high-resolution, can be connected without seams, is suitable for retail, and can be used for in-store advertising screens in boutique industries.