Darmstadt, Germany, and Tokyo, Japan, October 24, 2012 - Merck and Seiko Epson Corporation today announced a cooperation and licensing agreement for inkjet inks used in the manufacture of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. According to the agreement, Epson will supply Merck with ink technology that dissolves Merck’s OLED materials so that they can be used for the production of printable displays used in OLED television screens. Financial terms of the business agreement were not disclosed.
The use of inkjet technology for printing OLED displays requires a combination of long-lasting OLED materials and ink technology for firing (printing) the OLED materials both quickly and accurately. The partnership will combine Merck’s capabilities in high-quality, long-lasting OLED materials for inkjet manufacturing with Epson’s expertise in technology that converts OLED materials into ink, and allows this ink to be fired from an inkjet printing device.
“We are excited about our strategic decision to partner with Epson, one of the world’s leading inkjet-printing technology companies,” said Karl-Ludwig Kley, Chairman of the Executive Board, Merck. “Our printable OLED materials will greatly reduce manufacturing costs. Combining our technologies with Epson will make the mass production of large OLED displays possible, which until now with current technologies has proven to be financially and technically difficult.”
“Inkjet printing of large OLED displays solves many of the productivity issues associated with conventional vapor-deposition techniques,” said Minoru Usui, president of Epson. “Today’s agreement is another example of how Epson’s unique Micro Piezo inkjet technology can be used to improve on traditional manufacturing processes. And Merck, with its deep technical knowledge in the display industry, is an ideal partner for this new application.”
Merck and Epson will also continue their close cooperation to create a strong ink-formulation roadmap in order for Merck to commercialize and address current and future requirements of the OLED TV industry, including the creation of industry-standard inks for manufacturing OLED TVs using inkjet technology.
Through this cooperation with Epson, Merck is now active in all relevant current and future TV technologies. According to market researchers*, OLED TVs will be the second biggest TV technology after liquid crystal display (LCD) TV. It is forecasted that by 2017, LCD TVs will have a 93% market share of all TVs sold and OLED TVs will fetch the remaining 7%. The increase of OLED’s market share will then continue.
* Source: DisplaySearch, 2012 / Q3
About Seiko Epson
Epson is a global imaging and innovation leader whose product lineup ranges from inkjet printers and 3LCD projectors to sensors and other micro devices. Dedicated to exceeding the vision of its customers worldwide, Epson delivers customer value based on compact, energy-saving, and high-precision technologies in markets spanning enterprise and the home to commerce and industry.
Led by the Japan-based Seiko Epson Corporation, the Epson Group comprises more than 75,000 employees in 97 companies around the world, and is proud of its ongoing contributions to the global environment and the communities in which it operates.
About Performance Materials division / OLEDs at Merck
Merck’s Performance Materials division is the world’s largest supplier of liquid crystals for the display industry and it also makes OLED materials.
Organic light emitting diodes – OLEDs for short – have opened up whole new dimensions in display technology. They allow displays with brilliant colors and sharp picture quality that catch the eye from every angle, as well as being very energy efficient and long-lasting. As a leading manufacturer, Merck offers a complete portfolio of premium materials for OLED displays.
Currently more than 100 people in the division are involved in OLED materials R&D, and the number of employees continues to increase. In 2005, Merck acquired the Lumitec OLED R&D project of Schott AG, based in Mainz. Later in 2005 Merck purchased OLED materials from Avecia’s Covion unit, based in Frankfurt for € 50 million. In 2010 all Merck related OLED activities were consolidated at its headquarters in Darmstadt from the three sites at Mainz, Frankfurt, and existing OLED research at Darmstadt.
More than ten years of experience in manufacturing OLED materials and a strong portfolio of global patents give Merck a solid foundation for its range of high-purity and high-stability materials that are customized to meet customer requirements precisely. Furthermore, Merck cooperates closely with market leaders and is a reliable partner in the development of innovative materials for the future technology of OLEDs.
In the past, OLED display manufacturers had to choose between two processes: the evaporation of small molecules in a vacuum and printable conjugated polymer coating from solution. But now Merck is pioneering a new approach: soluble small molecules. This method combines the benefits of small molecules with the advantages of solution processing. The innovative hybrid materials simplify the production of OLED displays – boosting coating efficiency and flexibility while retaining the excellent display properties of small molecule OLEDs.