Yesterday Patently Apple posted a report titled "The technology behind Next-Gen OLED Panels for iPads and MacBooks is in the works that will deliver thinner sharper Displays." The report covered next-gen OLED displays for tablets and notebooks using a new Fine Metal Mask (FMM) process. Today we're learning that Apple has requested a sample of fine metal mask (FMM) from APS Holdings for a virtual reality (VR) application.
More specifically, Apple has requested a sample of the South Korean company’s laser patterning FMM. Apple requested a resolution of 3000ppi (pixels per inch) to meet their specifications for a VR device.
Apple will likely test the FMM sample to see if it can be applied to production, then form a more concrete plan for the VR device’s development. FMM is used to deposit the red, green and blue organic materials during the production of OLED panels.
Currently, the holes in the FMM that the organic materials go through are made using wet etching. This method can offer up to 600ppi with the current level of technology. Apple likely wanted a laser patterning FMM as laser drilling for the holes will make 3000ppi more achievable. APS Holdings has been developing laser patterning FMM for application in MicroOLED panels.
MicroOLED panels uses a silicon substrate instead of glass like conventional OLED panels. This allows it to offer more precise and higher resolution.
MicroOLED also has microseconds response time and is a likely candidate to be used for VR and augmented reality (AR) applications.
In May, APS Holdings was chosen by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy to develop a MicroOLED display technology for high luminance and high resolution AR application. The national project’s aim is to develop a AR glass with 4000ppi resolution by 2024.
If Apple’s same test of its FMM goes well, APS Holdings will likely be able to expand its laser patterning FMM business. However, it will still need to secure productivity in the production of the FMMs.