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What Generation Means in the Display industry


What Generation Means in the Display industry

‘Samsung Display started the first manufacturing plant for 4.5 generation OLEDs’
‘Samsung Display has started building the largest manufacturing plant for 8th generation LCDs’

News about Samsung Display commencing mass production of OLED and mass production of our 8th generation LCD can often be found in recent news articles.
When reading the headlines, you might have wondered what ‘Generation’ actually means. When did this concept start, and what’s our current ‘generation’ of displays?

What does ‘Generation’ mean for display panels?

To fully understand the concept of ‘Generation’, you should first understand the beginning stages of how display panels are made. OLED and LCD display panels are produced on top of a large substrate. Depending on the exact size of the panel to be produced, there could be relatively few spaces within a substrate to accommodate 55-inch diagonal TVs, for example, or hundreds of spaces for 5-inch diagonal smartphones.

In the display industry, the glass substrates that are foundation of panels are called ‘Mother Glass’. The generation is determined based on the size of the mother glass. We use ‘G’ for ‘Generation’ after the latest number to name each generation.

In the early stages of LCD production, it was challenging to produce panels from large-size mother glass.

Back then, mother glass itself was small, only 270X360mm. This was called ‘1st generation mother glass’. There is no industry-wide rule to universally define the term ‘Generation’. For example, one could make the case that the size of a mother glass for Company A’s 10.5 generation and Company B’s 11th generation can be the same. Usually, however, a generation is the same among all OEMs who have similar-sized products for the end-user. Often, manufacturers publish the generation of mother glass that they are using, on their webpages.

Size comparison for each generation

Each generation of mother glass has increased significantly in size. First generation display glass started at 270 x360mm, and usually, the size has doubled with each successive generation. Currently, the largest mother glass is 2940x3370mm.10.5G or, for some companies, 11G). That’s 100 times larger than 1st generation displays.

Why mother glass has become so large is easy to understand. To begin with, technology has advanced a great deal since the first generations of glass. Secondly, the larger the mother glass, the higher the productivity In the next section, I will explain in detail what ‘higher productivity’ means.

What is the best size for mother glass?

It is faster and more efficient for a manufacturer to produce panels from one larger-sized mother glass than from multiple small-sized alternatives because the larger the mother glass, the more panels we can make from it.

Also, productivity is especially significant when we make large-size panels for TV or monitors. As demand for large size TVs and monitors grew, companies had to start making large size panels to keep up with the trend. As we will show, efficient utilization of mother glass depends greatly on the size of the panel.

Let’s take a look at 8G mother glass, Manufacturers can produce six 55-inch diagonal panels from a single mother glass for TV, but can only make two 65-inch diagonal panels from the same 8th generation mother glass. That’s twice as much waste from every substrate of mother glass when producing 65-inch panels, instead of 55-inch panels. In this case, we illustrate the ratio of useable area for actually creating panels to the entire area of one piece of 8th generation mother glass. This is referred to as ‘Chamfer efficiency’, or the efficiency factor for producing a variety of panel sizes from the same mother glass. The higher the chamfer efficiency, the more economical it is for manufacturers to make.

As productivity increases, chamfer efficiency is correspondingly higher. Manufacturers therefore must carefully analyze the latest consumer trends before building any new manufacturing plants. In other words, they have to first determine the optimal size for their new generation of mother glass before beginning construction.