Samsung and LG both introduced 55-inch OLED TVs at CES 2012, and while there's no word on pricing yet we are assuming they'll be on the side of eye-bleedingly expensive, as is usual for a first-generation TV technology. Chemical company DuPont is doing its best to counter that, however, plunging $30 million into a new facility at Newark's Stine-Haskell Research Center with the ultimate goal of finding ways to bring the cost of large OLED panel production down — and it looks like Samsung could be the beneficiary. DuPont plans to employ 35 people at the facility, and has just received $920,000 in state funding from Delaware.
How does DuPont plan to reduce cost so dramatically? It's using a "spray-printing" technique to pattern OLED materials onto a display, with a 50-inch TV panel theoretically able to be printed in under two minutes. The process isn't fully optimized yet, but the company just let it be known in its Q4 2011 earnings call that it's made $20 million in licensing the technique, likely to the unnamed Asian manufacturer of AMOLEDs it signed last year. We already know that LG Display makes the cost-effective OLED panel in LG's 55-inch OLED TV, and Bloomberg speculated back in November that DuPont's partner could be Samsung — the only other company to have announced a large OLED TV for 2012. If true, then that's a rare reversal of roles for US companies who typically provide design — not components and process technology — to a manufacturing supply chain dominated by Asian companies.