Mini LED Gradually Realizes Commercialization

With the development of LED display technology, smaller pitch displays have become the future trend. Mini LED undertakes the characteristics of high efficiency, high reliability, high brightness, and fast response time of small-pitch LEDs, and has the advantages of brighter colors, higher definition, thinner volume, and longer life.

Two Application Scenarios of Mini LED

As a new technology with broad market prospects, the application scenarios of Mini LED terminals mainly include direct display and backlighting. In the display field, the demand for indoor large-screen displays is growing rapidly. At present, Mini LED displays are widely used in scenes such as optoelectronics, conferences, and engineering, attracting major manufacturers to make efforts to deploy. In the field of backlighting, companies such as Apple and Samsung, which have the effect of wind direction, have deployed one after another, which is expected to drive the application and promotion of Mini LED.

Mini LED has certain technical advantages in both the backlight and direct display fields. Direct-type mini LEDs have high resolution, high luminous efficiency, high reliability, and long life. They can be applied to the backlight of LCD panels such as mobile phones, TVs, and automobiles. The RGB Mini LED display products use flip-chip COB or IMD technology to overcome the reliability of formal SMD packaging and the defects of pixel granulation, so that the display products have high resolution, and flexible displays can be realized with flexible substrates.

Among the many functions, reliability is the key to achieving the advantages of Mini LED technology. Using Mini LED backlight technology, the number of lamp beads ranges from thousands to tens of thousands, which is several orders of magnitude higher than the number of lamp beads in traditional LED backlights. As the display area shrinks, the number of lamp beads required increases rapidly. However, from the perspective of product quality, despite the increase in quantity, the failure rate of micro LEDs should be close to 0 PPM in principle, which greatly increases the reliability requirements of micro LEDs.

The Problems Faced by the Commercialization of Mini LED

So far, the commercialization of Mini LEDs has not reached expectations, and yield and cost are two important factors. The development progress of Mini LED is not as fast as expected. This is mainly due to the delayed resolution of the yield problem in large-scale production caused by chip shrinkage.

High cost is an important limiting factor for the large-scale application of Mini LEDs. The number of Mini LED application lamp beads is growing rapidly, and the cost of the lamp beads is greatly affected by the yield rate, so the price of mini LED products is very high. For small-pitch displays, the price of P0.9 products is significantly higher than those of P1.25 and below. From the perspective of backlight applications, in Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro, it is estimated that about 10,000 Mini LED chips will be used as the backlight source. Therefore, only the cost of components such as LED chips, PCB backplanes, and driver ICs will occupy a large proportion. Coupled with the test sorting and printing process, the cost of the Mini LED backlight display is still higher than US$100 at this stage, and the cost of the Mini LED backlight module accounts for more than 60%.

Mini LED Market Prospects Can Be Expected

Mini LED application market space is driven by both downstream backlight and display, and the market prospect is broad. From 2010 to 2013, according to Heitz's law, the brightness of LEDs increased and the price decreased, which caused the backlight penetration rate to increase rapidly. After 2013, LED backlights have become saturated, and products such as OLED have formed an alternative relationship with LED backlights, and their market share has dropped significantly. With the penetration of Mini LED backlight terminals, it is estimated that the Mini LED backlight market will reach approximately US$1.1 billion in 2023, driving the overall recovery of the backlight market.

The application of indoor large screen technology provides development opportunities for Mini LED. In 2020, P0.9 will begin to make a significant contribution to the output value, and market demand will reach 1,000 square meters per month by the end of the year. It is estimated that by 2021, the market demand for P0.9 will reach 2000 to 3000 square meters per month. Overall, the market size of Mini LED displays is expected to reach US$660 million in 2023, with a compound growth rate of 35.5% from 2020 to 2023.

With the penetration of terminals, the Mini LED industry chain will increase in volume. As the world's leading consumer electronics brands, Apple and Samsung are extremely influential in the industry. The participation of these companies will increase the possibility of similar products in the industry. The penetration rate of Mini LED backlight terminals is expected to increase, and Mini LED will also be used in the display field. Steady progress.

Packaging Becomes the First Choice for Industry Chain Flexibility

Packaging is the key supporting technology of Mini LED and the main solution to the reliability of Mini LED. It determines the application direction of Mini LED. It is in the middle of the LED industry chain and has a high proportion of value. The market structure is gradually increasing with the trend of centralization and the important role of packaging technology in the Mini LED industry chain, we believe that the packaging industry is the first to benefit from the increase in LED demand created by Mini LEDs.

The LED chip industry is highly concentrated. Data show that in 2018, the revenue of LED chip companies in mainland China accounted for 67% of the global market, and the production capacity of the top three companies accounted for 60% of the Chinese LED chip market.

The concentration trend of the LED packaging industry is obvious, and the flexibility of leading companies is worth looking forward to. Compared with the chip industry, the concentration of packaging is relatively low. Data shows that the top ten manufacturers in the Chinese market accounted for approximately 50% of the market in 2018. However, the packaging industry is showing a clear trend of concentration. After the number of LED packaging companies reached its peak in 2014, many small and medium-sized packaging companies could not withstand fierce market competition and were eliminated. The number of companies in the LED packaging industry in China continued to decline. In the context of industry concentration, head packaging companies are expected to benefit more from the growth in Mini LED demand, which is worth looking forward to.

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