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OLED Technology Flips the Product Development Process on its Head: Working with Tier 2 Suppliers



In the automotive industry, car manufacturers typically work closely with Tier 1 suppliers who create the finalized parts for their vehicles, such as interior seating elements, electronics, and lighting. These suppliers source their raw materials and components from Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers, who typically don’t have the chance to interact directly with the carmaker.


With OLED technology, we flip that organizational structure completely on its head. In this blog, we will explore why it’s important for automakers to work directly with OLED lighting manufacturers like OLEDWorks, and how having trilateral communication between the three parties saves time, money, and headaches during the product creation process.


How OLED Lighting Design is Different


In the standard automotive lighting development process, Tier 1’s source their materials and lighting components from suppliers, and then provide a final product for incorporation into the vehicle. The Tier 1 controls most of the design of the lighting unit by incorporating diffusors, color filters, housing, and other elements that help meet the carmaker’s needs and desires.


But OLED lighting doesn’t require other optical components to change its appearance. Logos, symbols, individually addressable segments, and color options are all integrated within the panel, making the lighting component itself the primary design element. This gives the OLED manufacturer greater control over the design elements of the final lighting.


Benefits of Working with the OLED Manufacturer


With the typical linear process, Tier 2 suppliers like the OLED panel manufacturer have no direct interaction with the carmakers. But with the primary design elements of the lighting found within the OLED panel, it’s crucial for every party to collaborate throughout the entire design process.


By working directly with the OLED manufacturer, carmakers can clearly convey the design elements that they are looking for including color, shape, size, animation capabilities, or logos and branding. The OLED manufacturer can then offer their expertise on what is feasible with regards to the technology, as well as suggest methods of cost-saving through design edits.

Tier 1 suppliers can offer valuable insight into the production process such as integration of the lighting into the overall vehicle system, animation programming, and more, but cannot provide intimate knowledge of OLED panel design. It’s crucial that all parties work together throughout the design process to lead to the highest performing and most cost-effective product.


“It’s a very exciting process, and we’ve found that the most successful and innovative designs are reached when all three parties – the carmaker, Tier 1 lighting supplier, and OLEDWorks – work together from the beginning,” says Jeff Spindler, Director of Research & Development at OLEDWorks. “Early collaboration allows us to expand on each other’s ideas of what is possible with OLED lighting design, while staying bounded by the feasibility of the technology.”


OLEDWorks Joint Development Program


The OLEDWorks Joint Development Program (JDP) offers automotive carmakers and Tier 1 suppliers the opportunity to evaluate and prototype real-world OLED applications with the assistance of OLEDWorks engineers and serves as a launching pad for commercialization of OLED solutions for future SOPs.


John Rubens, Vice President of Customer Success, says “The Joint Development Program is an opportunity for interested manufacturers to meet with our experts and offer a platform to explore OLED technology together. By working with the OLEDWorks team, we can combine our industry knowledge and technical expertise to create the best prototype for the manufacturer to share with their own stakeholders and customers and lead into future commercial production.”


Reach out to our customer service team to learn how the JDP offers:

  • An accelerated development track with a defined timeline

  • Access to top OLEDWorks engineers

  • Ongoing educational support for internal teams

  • Cost sharing for development of prototype(s)/demonstrator(s)




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