Has Samsung End Of Life’d Its Short-Lived Transparent OLEDs?

July 26, 2016 by Dave Haynes


If you were at InfoComm last month, one thing you may have noticed oddly AWOL was the transparent OLED technology the company showed earlier in the year at ISE in Amsterdam, and also at Digital Signage Expo.

I heard quietly at InfoComm from a Samsung contact that OLED, in Samsung’s view, wasn’t ready for the commercial space.

That was confirmed this week, indirectly through a UK company that has been touting the product, and now finds itself in the position of effectively saying, “Ummm, never mind.”

From an email to customers of Crystal Display Systems:

As you may know, CDS have been working hard over the past few months to bring together the best possible offering on TOLED display. However, today have learnt some unfortunate news that that Samsung has officially made the Transparent OLED Display panel End Of Life, which is the base panel used in all Transparent OLED products available on the market.

This means that we and other companies can no longer offer this product going forward.  There has been talk of a Last Time Buy option but as it will not be supported in the future we do not think this is a good idea as any issues with the panels such as fragility and reliability could not be rectified or replaced which could be expensive for all concerned.

CDS Director Tony Large comments: ‘The EOL of TOLED is a really unfortunate situation for all concerned. Such is the nature of large scale Manufacture that without large volume take up on products, fabrication becomes impossible. Coupled with issues of production yield, and fragility, the outcome is not entirely unexpected. We are working closely with clients to develop alternative technologies based on proven TLCD technology.’

The reason for the EOL notice is quite simply that the global quantity is not enough for Samsung (or any other major manufacturer) to justify the investment.  There is talk of LG also manufacturing Transparent OLED next year BUT we believe that with the Samsung decision this will now be in doubt if the market is not large enough to justify investment and production capacity!  This will affect all companies offering the TOLED product.

The risk now is also that companies in the Far East, Europe and USA may want to offload product as soon as possible to avoid the risk of being stuck with unsupported parts, and this may also include B grade panels that were rejected for Tier 1 use but find their way into the ‘grey’ market.

Our advice to people that have committed to this product should try to cancel / return if possible due to the risk of no product and limited support going forward, or if you are going to receive the product ensure you have 3+ year warranty for parts and labour to protect themselves and clients.

CDS appreciate the problems this could / will cause customers so are helping as many customers as they can to offer alternative solutions whilst still giving them long term availability, quality and excellent service.

I’ve seen nothing from Samsung formally announcing this, but I doubt CDS would put this out there without careful consideration and confirmation.  The only press I can find drafts off the CDS email.

I have emails out to Samsung contacts.

Samsung is not the only big panel company making OLED, and LG in particular has put a lot of marketing noise behind the tech, showing a variety of wavy, skinny and see-through displays at recent trade shows. Planar is also marketing transparent OLED, which I’d assume originates from an LG plant and gets “Planar’d” in terms of that company’s optimization and tweaks.

I do know Planar is actively selling and shipping transparent OLED 55s.

The issue with OLED, commercial, has to do with image retention (like the old days of plasma screens) and the impact of ultraviolet light on the organics of the displays – think of fabric and wood that both fade when left in sunny rooms.

What I’ve seen of OLED, I loved … visually. It’s crazy-expensive, and while I’ve no knowledge of what would get Samsung in and out of the game so quickly (transparent OLEDs were just announced in 2015), that company is all about volume, and these are looking very much like low volume, specialty displays.

Planar’s OLED

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