OLED lighting markets to reach $4.5 B by 2013, says report

NanoMarkets claims that OLED lighting has made great leaps forward and may soon become a real presence in the backlighting market.

The OLED lighting market will reach almost US$4.5 billion by 2013 and grow to $5.9 billion by 2015, says a new report from industry analyst firm NanoMarkets LC. The firm claims that in the past year the prospects for OLED lighting have made great leaps forward due to improvements in OLED performance and manufacturing.

A companion report addressing OLED materials will be released next week.

The OLED lighting report analyzes and forecasts the rapidly emerging market and answers important questions on which segments of the lighting market will see the first penetration of OLED lighting.

The report says that the “general consensus is that flat-panel OLED lighting is likely to emulate FPDs by starting out with products of modest capabilities, and then evolving over time to capture more demanding applications. However, this consensus is not universal.”

Backlighting market

NanoMarkets expects that the OLED backlighting market will reach $1.1 billion by 2015. And while the first OLED lighting panels are quite small, the recent scaling up of factories in Asia to build large OLED displays will certainly benefit the manufacturing infrastructure for OLED lighting and lead to larger panels within a few years.

The report says that “it is plausible—given time—for OLEDs to ease into the high-end backlighting market. Although ILEDs [inorganic LEDs] have an efficiency edge over OLEDs today, that edge may narrow or even disappear. Moreover, point sources of light like ILEDs are not especially effective at delivering area light and typically require additional optics to do the job. OLEDs, in contrast, already have exactly the kind of broad area light that’s needed for backlighting.”

Other markets

The flat and flexible format presented by OLEDs creates an opportunity to design high-value added lighting fixtures with an appeal to upscale consumers and especially architects. During 2008, lighting designer Ingo Maurer introduced the world's first OLED "function table light" and researchers at GE are targeting lighted curtains and lighted wallpaper. By 2015, NanoMarkets projects that sales of OLED architectural and specialist industrial lighting will reach $1.9 billion.

The report also says that “there appears to be a broad belief in the OLED industry that electronic signage might be a likely home for early OLED lighting....Do we see opportunities for OLED lighting in electronic signage? Most definitely.”

Costs vs. lifetime

The NanoMarkets report will also discuss cost issues and the likely improvements that we will see in lifetimes, luminance and efficiency over the coming years.

The unit costs of OLED lights are likely to remain higher than older general lighting technologies but the extra costs will be offset by improved OLED lifetimes and efficiencies, the report says. During 2008, OLED lifetimes improved from 24 Khrs to 100 Khrs.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Energy now expects OLED lighting to reach 150 lm/W efficiency in 2012 rather than 2014 as previously forecast. NanoMarkets believes that these and other improvements in OLEDs will drive the general illumination market to $2.3 billion in revenues by 2015.

“How will OLEDs compete in the general illumination market? Cost per unit will certainly have to be part of the competitive profile, but we don’t really know how OLEDs can match up in this regard yet. Probably, the three biggest factors that OLED lighting has going for it are wattage (wall-plug power), lifetime and luminous efficiency,” the report says.

Manufacturing updates

The report includes an analysis of the latest manufacturing techniques and developments on the OLED materials front.

Manufacturing processes for OLEDs have also progressed significantly. GE and the Fraunhofer Institute have both demonstrated roll-to-roll manufacturing of OLED lighting which will ultimately lead to significant cost improvements in OLED fabrication. Low cost printing approaches and new small molecule inks will also help propel OLEDs into the backlighting market.

The report also provides information on government-funded R&D projects around the world that are helping to drive OLED lighting into the market place. Detailed forecasts in volume and value terms are included.

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