Yesterday, Patently Apple released a report titled “The technology behind next-generation OLED panels for iPads and MacBooks is in the process of delivering sharper screens.” The report dealt with next-generation OLED screens for tablets and laptops that used a new thin metal mask (FMM) process. Today we know 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 FMM laser pattern. Apple requested a resolution of 3000 dpi (pixels per inch) to meet its specifications for a VR device.
Apple will likely test the FMM sample to see if it can be applied to production, and then form a more concrete plan for the development of the VR device. FMM is used to deposit red, green and blue organic materials during the production of OLED panels.
Currently, the holes of the FMM through which the organic materials pass are made by wet engraving. This method can offer up to 600 dpi with the current level of technology. Apple probably wanted an FMM laser pattern, as laser drilling for the holes will make 3000 ppi more achievable. APS Holdings has been developing FMM laser patterns for applications in MicroOLED panels.
MicroOLED panels use a silicon substrate instead of glass like conventional OLED panels. This allows you to offer a more accurate and higher resolution.
MicroOLED also has a microsecond response time and is likely to be used for virtual reality and augmented reality (RA) applications.
In May, APS Holdings was selected by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy to develop MicroOLED display technology for high-luminance, high-resolution AR applications. The goal of the national project is to develop an AR glass with a resolution of 4000 dpi in 2024.
If Apple’s same test on its FMM goes well, it’s likely that APS Holdings could expand its FMM laser pattern business. However, it will still have to ensure productivity in FMM production.