July 28, 2015: Despite prices still on the higher side, demand for OLED lighting seems to be picking up as designers find it suitable as OLED panels are flexible and soft. Car manufacturers also see potential in it as it is light weight and durable. Hence, more and more commercial installations are being done, and OLED manufacturers are also considering mass production. They are also continuously increasing performance.
The price challenge
The challenge that still holds manufacturers to go in for mass production and users for going in for OLED products is their costs, which is still on the higher side, hence limiting OLED to very high-end applications only.
Usually, OLED lighting manufacturers do not disclose the prices of their OLED products. But Philips discloses its price, and recently LG Chem has also disclosed the price of its OLED panels. LG Chem?s large 320×320 mm OLED panel that emits 1,200 lumens, costs $680. This translates to $566 per klm. LG Chem has just started production of this expensive panel.
LG Chem?s smaller panels cost $200 per klm, depending on the type of the panel and the purchase volume.
On the other hand, Philips’ FL300 panel, 300 lumens, costs ?136, which is $516 per klm. But Philips says that if it is bought in volume, price gets cut significantly. For example, a package of 40 panels costs ?2,400 (?60 each) or $226 per klm.
However, if we compare this with LED cost, then LED products are much cheaper. For example, currently, LED lighting price is about $10 for klm. While the non-branded LEDs can cost about $9 per klm, the branded ones like Osram, Philips or Cree can cost $10-14 per klm.
How OLED can be made affordable?
Researchers and manufacturers are at it to find a solution to lower the price of OLED panels and make it more affordable. They are coming up with new production technologies, based on soluble OLED processes that will help to cut down production cost. Also, when OLEDs will be produced in high-volume fabs, costs of production will automatically get reduced. According to an estimate, large mass-production OLED fabs with advanced processes can reduce production cost by about 90%, which can make OLED price much closer to LED price.
In mid-2014, LG Chem had dramatically dropped the price of OLED light panels, terming it to be a strategy to increase sales. Then its panel prices was set at US$600 per klm and above, depending on order quantities, which it had reduced to to $200/klm. This, LG Chem said, it could do due to its adoption of different glass substrates and encapsulation material for their OLED panels.
Also, with advancement in production processes, yield rates will go up to about 70%. For instance, as in 2012 only about 10% of OLED panels produced were actually usable. However, LG believes that its M2 facility will deliver yield rates of about 70%. LG believes that with its M2 factory, it will see OLED breaking out of the rich-kid niche. LG?s ?M2? OLED factory will be capable of churning out 26,000 OLED ?sheets? a month.
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