By Chris Nicholls

TOKYO: Sumitomo Chemical, one of Japan’s largest chemical companies, announced Friday they will begin manufacturing OLED panels over 40-inches in size from 2010.

The announcement, made by company president Hiromasa Yonekura, stated Sumitomo would use a new proprietary technology, similar to inkjet printing, to produce the panels. The technology will mean lower production costs and few problems when increasing panel sizes, a company spokesperson told

Production will begin in 2009 with small- to medium-size panels, before moving into the larger sizes in 2010, the spokesperson said.

While they could not confirm which companies Sumitomo was negotiating with, the spokesperson said they were in negotiation with “several parties” to supply the panels to television manufacturers.

Samsung have already debuted their own OLED prototypes, while Sony has their X1 OLED display on sale now. Panasonic has confirmed it will introduce OLED from 2010, but not specified whether it will make its own panels, while LG has signed a deal with Eastman Kodak to access their OLED technology. Sharp has steadfastly refused to acknowledge OLED, but it is understood they are also in the process of developing such televisions.

Sumitomo Chemical’s announcement is the first sign of a return to the flat panel sphere, after selling LCD filters to Samsung in the early part of the decade but usurped when Samsung built their Tanjong S-LCD factory with Sony.