OLED is an emerging display technology that enables beautiful and efficient displays and lighting panels. OLEDs are already being used in many mobile devices and TVs, and the next generation of these panels will be flexible and bendable.
Different kinds of flexibility
When we talk about flexible OLEDs, it's important to understand what that means exactly. A flexible OLED is based on a flexible substrate which can be either plastic, metal or flexible glass. The plastic and metal panels will be light, thin and very durable - in fact they will be virtually shatter-proof.
The first range of devices that use flexible OLED displays are not really flexible from the user perspective. The device maker bends the displays, or curves it - but the final user is not able to actually bend the device. Besides the beautiful designs, a flexible OLED has several advantages especially in mobile devices - the displays are lighter, thinner and more durable compared to glass based displays.
Second generation flexible OLED devices may indeed be flexible to the final user. Finally, when the technology is ready, we may see OLED panels that you can fold, bend or stretch. This may create all sorts of exciting designs that will enable large displays to be placed in a mobile device and only be opened when required.
Flexible OLED products
In October 2013, following many years of development and prototype demonstrations, both Samsung and LG Display finally started producing flexible AMOLED displays on plastic (polyimide) substrates. Both Korean companies are now mass producing such displays, which are being used in mobile phones and wearable devices - such as the Galaxy S7 Edge (shown below), the LG G Flex 2 and Apple's Watch.
Samsung Display is currently producing flexible OLEDs in two production lines, the 5.5-Gen A2 and the and the newer A3 6-Gen A3. Samsung is producing around 9 million flexible OLEDs per month - to satisfy demand for its mobile phones and wearables - and Samsung is working on expanding its capacity as demand soars and as Apple ordered around 100 million flexible OLED panels for its future iPhones.
LG Display currently produces plastic-based OLEDs in its Gen-4.5 fab, and is investing $900 million to build new production lines as it also aims to become a major flexible AMOLED producer.
The latest flexible OLED news:
OLED-Info's foldable, flexible, VR/AR, microdisplays, PMOLED, automotive and graphene OLED market reports updated to April 2019
Today we published new versions of our market reports - that cover the flexible, VR/AR, microdisplays, automotive, PMOLED and graphene OLED markets. OLED-Info provides comprehensive niche OLED market reports, and our reports cover everything you need to know about the niche market, and can be useful if you want to understand how the OLED industry works and what this technology can provide for your own industry. The reports are now updated to April 2019.
- Why flexible displays and lighting panels are so exciting
- What kind of flexible displays are currently on the market
- All about the foldable OLED market and industry
- What the future holds for flexible OLEDs
- How to acquire flexible OLEDs for your products
The report package provides a good introduction to the flexible and foldable OLED market - present and future. It details both flexible displays and lighting technologies. Read more here!
In June 2018 Kyulux and Wisechip unveiled a PMOLED display that uses Kyulux’s Hyperfluorescence yellow emitter. Kyulux updated today that Wisechip is now ready to start producing the HF panel and is seeking customers.
Wisechip eventually settled on a large panel - 73.00 x 41.86 mm (2.7") with a resolution of 128x64. Wisechip says that the power consumption of its HF display is almost half of its regular fluorescent yellow PMOLED.
Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) developed a self-powered wearable and washable OLED display device. The whole device is fabricated on textiles and the efficient OLED devices are driven by polymer solar modules.
Both the OLED device and the polymer solar panels are sensitive to moisture and oxygen, and regular OLED encapsulation will not protect such a device when washed. The researches designed a new washable encapsulation barrier using both ALD and spin coating. The device is flexible (curvature radius of 3 mm) and survived 20 washing cycles of 10 minutes each with little change in performance.
Market analysts from CLSA say that in 2018 BOE shipped 2.7 million flexible OLED displays to Huawei, its main customer. These were produced at BOE's Chengdu B7 6-Gen OLED fab, which has reached yields of over 75% (DSCC estimates that BOE's yields are around 50%).
CLSA says that BOE will soon start ramping the second phase of its B7 line, and the company expects to ship 30-50 million AMOLED panels in 2019. CLSA says that this is a highly aggressive target - and they believe actual shipments will only be 12.9 million in 2019.
Samsung Electronics announced that it expects its first quarter earnings to be below market expectations - due to weakness in its display and memory businesses.
Samsung says that LCD prices have dropped more than expected and demand for its flexible OLED also declined. Analysts from Susquehanna Financial Group estimate that a weak smartphone market and a "dramatic" decline of Apple iPhone OLED orders caused Samsung Display's revenue to decline around 50% compared to Q4 2018.
A report from China suggests that Samsung sold over 500,000 units of its new flagship Galaxy S10 smartphones in China in only 7 days. it tok 30 days to achieve the same number of sales for Samsung's GS9 smartphone in 2018. Within two weeks of its launch, the GS10 is sold out in Hong Kong.
Reviews on Samsung's GS10 has been very positive, and Samsung expects to sell 40-45 million units in 2019.
On March 9th, LG Display's promotion team kindly invited us to a tour of LG's "Display City" in Paju, Korea. The display complex houses about 20,000 employees, and is highly impressive. It was a pleasure to get the opportunity to see it.
The first thing one notices is the new P10 10.5-Gen OLED TV fab building - which is the largest building in Paju. The P10 OLED TV fab is not complete yet, but according to reports LGD will be ready to start installing the equipment soon.
We are happy to announce that Futaba's film-type flexible 1.4"128x16 monochrome white PMOLED display has been added to the OLED Marketplace. This unique flexible PMOLED joins Futaba's 1.8" 160x32 white flexible PMOLED that is also available through the marketplace.
In early March we conducted a 10 day trip to Seoul, to attend the OLED Korea 2019 conference (and visit some local display companies).
Visiting Seoul is a great chance to witness some beautiful OLED installations - LG Display has been deploying its OLED lighting and display solutions across town in businesses and tourist attractions. Retail stores of course were showing the latest smartphones by Samsung and LG - all of which adopt high end flexible AMOLED displays.
Last month LG Electronics announced its G8 ThinQ with its 6.1" 1440x3120 Crystal Sound OLED. According to a new trademark filing, LG now aims to brand its CSO OLEDs as "Display Speaker".
A Crystal Sound OLED, or Display Speaker turns the flexible OLED display into high end speakers. This innovating OLED technology works for smartphones, TVs and also OLED lighting panels. In LG's trademark filing, it also hints that this technology will be used in future wearable displays.