OLEDs and Their Market Saturation

If you’ve been watching the wire lately, you would have noticed a large spike in OLED production, news, and marketing.  From backlights to specialized architectural illumination, OLEDs are trying hard to find their way into the commercial market.  Analysts project that over the next ten years or so, we’ll see a very large spike in their usage and production, especially in the backlighting market.  The chart below shows some of those projected numbers:

According to a report published by NanoMarkets, OLED Lighting Markets 2008, OLED lighting markets will grow from approximately $2.8 million this year to around $6 billion in 2015.  That’s a pretty enormous jump – I hope that the market can live up to the standard to which it’s about to be held.

The second cousin of OLED, the ILED (inorganic LED) is based on a semiconductor design, whereas the OLED is attached to a sheet-type substrate.  ILEDs are most like spotlights, and OLEDs are more like washlights in that respect – manufacturing OLEDs in large format is a major engineering and manufacturing challenege to which an answer is being sought in order to get OLEDs further into the market.  ILEDs are burning the trail into the market for OLEDs, and as soon as certain issues are addressed, we’ll see OLEDs in a more standard capacity for solid state lighting.

An interesting future prediction is what’s going to happen to non-LED sources once OLEDs and ILEDs hit the market in full strength.  From the article at LEDs Magazine:

Most development activity is being targeted at the 1000-nit brightness level, generally considered to be the entry point for general-purpose lighting (an attractive opportunity for OLED lighting simply because the addressable market is so large). About 24 billion light bulbs for general illumination are sold worldwide every year.

But while the demand for lighting will increase as development proceeds in Asia, Africa and Latin America, it also seems likely that fewer bulbs, tubes and lighting arrays will be bought, simply because these lighting products are achieving longer lifetimes. As a result, NanoMarkets expects the addressable market to fall to about 10 billion units by the end of the forecast period. This represents OLED lighting sales for the general-purpose lighting market of about $1.1 m in 2008, growing to almost $2.3 bn in 2015.

I’m very interested in how this technology is going to continue to impact the industry and more specifically, design within the industry.  If you have insight on this subject as it matures, please post in the comments or contact me.

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