Ennostar’s subsidiary Epistar and PlayNitride’s wholly-owned subsidiary PlayNitride Display have announced that they have teamed up to build a production line for 6-inch Micro LED epi-wafers. Looking at the latest progress in the development of Micro LED, large-sized displays are regarded as the forerunners to the more advanced end products. Even though Micro LED has unresolved technological bottlenecks and cost-related issues, TrendForce is optimistic that this technology will eventually be adopted for the development of different kinds of displays and end products. Examples include transparent AR smart glasses, displays for wearable devices like smartwatches, automotive displays such as those embedded in a smart cockpit, and other transparent display products. Furthermore, the latest efforts in product development will likely create new high-end applications for Micro LED. TrendForce currently forecasts that the value of the market for Micro LED chips used in displays will reach US$542 million in 2024. Afterwards, the market will experience soaring growth starting in 2025 on account of the maturation of technologies.
In dealing with a new high-end display technology such as Micro LED, there is a high degree of customization in display design. Additionally, the technologies responsible for fabricating Micro LED displays must meet a very stringent set of requirements when it comes to accuracy and precision. Hence, the possibility of creating commercially viable and mass-produced Micro LED displays depends on a high level of synergy among companies that are involved in display panels, LED chips, mass transfer equipment, driver ICs, etc. In the supply chain for the traditional types of displays, different sections operate in a relatively independent manner and adhere to a certain division-of-labor scheme. By contrast, the supply chain for Micro LED displays operates under a very different model that requires close integration between sections.
Given this context, three coalitions have now emerged in the Micro LED market. The first coalition comprises Ennostar (including its subsidiaries Epistar, Unikorn Semiconductor, and Lextar), AUO, and Innolux. The second coalition is made up of BOE (including its subsidiary BOE Mled and joint venture BOE Pixey) and HC Semitek. The third coalition is formed by TCL CSOT, San’an Optoelectronics, and Extremely PQ Display Technology. It is worth noting that Hisense, through its recent actions such as increasing its stake in Changelight, appears to be forming another new faction in the Micro LED market as well.
TrendForce says Ennostar as one of the technology leaders in the global LED industry has been internally working on Micro LED for many years as it looks forward to the explosive growth of related opportunities in the future. In order to get a firmer grasp of fabrication technologies and entrench in itself in the industry ecology, Ennostar has taken the step of forming an alliance that prepares for the eventual mass production of Micro LED displays. With respect to the roles of the individual members of this alliance, Ennostar and Epistar will be responsible for high-end Micro LED chips. The development of mass transfer solutions will center on PlayNitride. As for AUO and Innolux, they will be in charge of display backplanes and driver ICs. Their efforts have to be closely interconnected and in sync in order to obtain successful results. In this latest chapter of the partnership between Ennostar and PlayNitride, the former will build a new production line by leveraging the expertise and experience that the latter has accumulated for mass transfer solutions and Micro LED chips.
PlayNitride is currently a leader in Micro LED technology. Apart from meeting its clients’ demand as a component supplier, PlayNitride has a well-rounded portfolio of technology patents as well as a wealth of experience. For other companies that manufacture products for various display-related applications (e.g., large-sized, automotive, and wearable), PlayNitride can help them adopt Micro LED by providing services such as setting up production capacity and optimizing production flow. Such collaborations would create core competitive advantages for the partnering display manufacturers. As PlayNitride simultaneously expands into component sales, IP services, and construction of production lines, it will be able to create new and profitable business models.
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