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High Production Costs Hamper Popularization of Micro LED TVs
A Next-generation TV technology
High Production Costs Hamper Popularization of Micro LED TVs
  • By Michael Herh
  • January 21, 2020, 12:16
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At the CES 2020, visitors watch Samsung Electronics' 2020 Micro LED “The Wall.”
Visitors to CES 2020 watch Samsung Electronics' 2020 Micro LED TV “The Wall.” 

Samsung Electronics and Sony have unveiled their micro LED TV products at CES 2020, but some display industry experts say that excessively high production cost will impede their popularization.

One square meter of display modules for micro LED TVs costs US$50,000, according to industry experts and foreign media outlets. The figure is up to 100 times higher than the module price (US$500 to US$1,500) of 4K LCD TVs, the current mainstream in the TV market.

The cost is high even compared to those of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TVs or quantum dot organic light-emitting diode (QLED) TVs. Micro LED TVs’ target consumers partially overlap those of OLED TVs and QLED TVs. The cost of materials for a micro LED TV was at least US$4,900 as of last year, according to global market research firm IHS Markit. The material cost of a 65-inch white OLED TV was US$400 and that of a 65-inch QLED TV US$1,300. Therefore, the material cost of a micro LED TV was about 10 times and four times higher than that of a 65-inch white OLED TV and that of a 65-inch QLED TV, respectively.

"As for micro LED displays, only LED chips and a low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) backplane (rear substrates) cost more than US$ 5,000," IHS Markit explained. “Their production cost will soar if cost for other materials, yields and indirect costs are added.”

Micro LED displays are a next-generation display that utilizes LED elements of less than 100㎛ to reduce the thickness and remove limitations such as screen sizes, contrast, resolutions, and borders. They are expensive as they are produced through a complicated process of moving up to 3.3 million LED chips onto a substrate.

Micro LED TV makers also have to solve another problem –- The smaller micro LED TVs they want to develop to lower their prices, the more difficult the manufacturing process becomes.

A micro LED TV popularization period set by Samsung Electronics has been put off once from 2021 to 2024. Last year, Samsung Electronics' 146-inch micro LED TV cost 400 million won (about US$345,000) per unit including installation costs and the price is expected to stay around 100 million won (about US$86,000) even if its size drops to 75 inches.