Subsiding MicroLED Hype Not Stopping German Firm From Building $1B Production Plant

November 9, 2022 by Dave Haynes

I wrote yesterday about how market researchers DSCC are saying much of the buzz about MicroLED display technology has subsided, but there’s also evidence that big money is going into building production capacity.

A reader pointed out how the Munich-based LED lighting company OSRAM is investing almost $1B over the next couple of years on a microLED manufacturing facility in Malaysia.

Showing confidence in the future of LEDs, reports LEDs Magazine, ams Osram is embarking on a nearly one-billion-dollar expansion of its Kulim, Malaysia site, where it will build an LED and microLED production facility alongside the €370 million plant that Osram opened some four years ago.

The report notes …

In a press release, ams Osram said the Kulim investment “is expected to amount to up to approximately €800 million ($873 million) over the next 18–24 months.”  The €800 million is more than twice the €370 million that raised eyebrows back in November 2017, when Osram (as the company was then called) opened the modern Kulim facility. 

The new plant will make LEDs and micro LEDs out of 8-in. wafers, a step up from the 6-in. wafers that went into effect when Osram first opened the state-of-the art factory in November 2017. Larger wafers can be more economical because they yield more chips.

I am told the major client for this production is Apple, but as is almost always the case with whale accounts like that, those business ties are not publicized. The thing with MicroLED, in the context of digital signage, is that it will probably stay as a premium specialty display for large format video walls, and for specialty applications like embedded in glass or in and on different surfaces, like retail fixtures and maybe even architectural surfaces like walls. It’s not all that likely, as my contact says, you’ll be using 55-inch microLED displays for the menu boards of a taco chain. They won’t compete on price with Chinese-made LCDs, and they’d be overkill for a lot of signage applications.

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