LG Display is reportedly continuing to phase out the production of LCD panels in favor of OLED manufacturing, with its 5th-generation P4 LCD production plant in Gumi recently shutting down. This comes after the 3.5-generation P2 LCD plant has already been closed, and before the 4th-generation P3 plant is expected to shut down by the end of the year. According to LG, these three production lines will not be repurposed for another use, however, some market watchers are already considering the possibility that the P2, P3, and P4 production lines could be converted for OLED and mega-sized LCD manufacturing in the future.
According to LG Display Vice Chairman, Han Sang-beom, the company will stop making any additional investments in LCD manufacturing, at least for the time being. At the same time, by the year 2020 the company is expected to invest a total of 20 trillion Won (roughly $18.08 billion) in the OLED sector, specifically the P10 and E6 production lines in Paju, as well as the E5 lines in Gumi and Guanzhou, China. At the moment LG Display has the only manufacturing line (P5) able to produce 5th-generation LCD panels, while its 8th-generation P8 and P9 plants in Paju are focusing on mega-sized and high-resolution LCD TV panels and monitors. DB Securities estimates that throughout 2018 LG Display will invest around 8.5 trillion Won (US$ 7.68 billion) in its OLED facilities, representing a 21.4 percent increase compared to its investments in this sector for 2017. Meanwhile, reports indicate that LG Display recently increased the orders for OLED manufacturing equipment to facilitate an increased production capacity of small and mid-size OLED panels. The company is expected to continue on this trend next year in an attempt to achieve a small and mid-sized OLED manufacturing capacity of 37,500 panels every month. In contrast the company’s investments in manufacturing equipment throughout 2016 led to a monthly production capacity of 15,000 panels, while this year the company managed to achieve a production capacity of 30,000 OLED panels.
Of course, LG Display is not the only OLED display manufacturer aiming to increase its production capacity, as Samsung remains the world’s largest presence in this area and could maintain its position as it may build the world’s largest OLED factory before 2019. On the other hand, LG Display is also a major OLED lighting panel supplier and the company aims to further expand this business in order to cover a little over 50 percent of the market by 2020.