The company disrupted the flat panel display industry when it launched a breakthrough equipment solution to mass-produce flexible organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). Flexible OLED technology gives limitless stretch to new product design innovation by liberating panel manufacturers from the constraints of glass substrates. It enables ultra-thin, feather-light displays that are bendable, rollable and even foldable.
Kateeva’s solution, the YIELDjet platform, leverages inkjet printing with innovations to perform critical steps in the OLED manufacturing process. Today, YIELDjet tools are helping to accelerate the adoption of OLED technology.
The new Kateeva investors are: BOE, Cybernaut Venture, GP Capital Shanghai, Redview Capital, andTCL Capital, all located in China. They join existing investors that include: Samsung Venture Investment Corporation (SVIC), Sigma Partners, Spark Capital, Madrone Capital Partners, DBL Partners, New Science Ventures, and VEECO Instruments, Inc.
The company has raised $200 million since it was founded in 2008.
New Board seats will be filled by an executive from BOE, Redview Capital, and TCL Capital respectively.
The funds will accelerate new product development. The money will also help Kateeva expand manufacturing capacity at its Silicon Valley headquarters, where production systems are being built. In addition, the funds will strengthen Kateeva’s customer satisfaction infrastructure in Asia and support continued R&D.
The round closes as demand for flexible OLED displays soars. This year, the market for plastic and flexible OLED displays will reach $2.1 billion, says Guillaume Chansin, Ph.D., senior technology analyst at research firm IDTechEx. By 2020, it will surpass $18 billion. While mobile phones and wearables are currently the two main applications, Chansin expects that the technology will be found in tablets and automotive in the coming years.
Alain Harrus, Kateeva chairman and CEO, noted how OLED technology first transformed the viewing experience by giving spectacular color quality and brightness to rigid displays on mobile phones. “Now, it’s giving extraordinary new shape, lightness and thinness to those products and others that have yet to be invented,” he said.
Flexible OLED is the first major application for Kateeva’s YIELDjet platform, according to Conor Madigan, president and co-founder, Ph.D. “Next up is OLED TV,” he said. “Having mastered the technical challenges of mass-producing thin film encapsulation (TFE) – the layer that gives thinness and flexibility to the OLED device – we’re now applying YIELDjet technology to help display manufacturers mass-produce the OLED RGB layer, which enables OLED TVs. The new funds will accelerate new product development and support ongoing R&D.”