You are here

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.

LG 5'' flexible OLED prototype photo

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.

ITRI 6'' flexible color AMOLED photo

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 Galaxy S7 Edge at MWC photo

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.

Samsung 5.7'' flexible OLED photo

Flexible OLED lighting

OLEDs can also be used to make white lighting panels. OLED is a diffuse area lighting source with unique characteristics. While OLED lighting is still in its infancy, many believe that flexible OLED lighting panels may provide designers with a new lighting source that will create stunning designs. Currently there are two companies that produce flexible OLED lighting - LG Display who is also constructing the world's first Gen-5 OLED lighting mass production line and Konica Minolta who's also developing an amibitious flexible OLED lighting fab.

LG Chem plastic-based flexible OLED prototype photo

Flexible OLEDs Market Report

If you want to fully understand the flexible OLED display and lighting markets, check out our Flexible OLED Market Report. This comprehensive report explains:

  • Why flexible displays and lighting panels are so exciting
  • What kind of flexible displays are currently on the market
  • What the future holds for flexible OLEDs
  • How to acquire flexible OLEDs for your products

The report package also provides a complete list of flexible OLED developers and makers and their current (and future) products, and a lot more. Read more here!

Latest Flexible OLED news

The Holst Centre: flexible OLED lighting is an excellent solution to illuminate touch controls

Mar 27, 2017

The Holst Center presented a new functional demonstrator that uses the Holst' in-mold electronics (IME) technology to show new human-machine interfaces in automotive electronics and consumer appliances. One of the new technologies embedded in this demonstrator is flexible OLED lighting that is used to illuminate touch controls.

Holst IME automotive technology demonstrator photo

The Holst Center says that this is the first time a flexible OLED has been used to illuminate touch controls. Usually several LEDs, light guides, complex wiring and bulky PCBs are required to achieve this effect. Flexible OLED lighting provides a much easier solution with complete design freedom.

IHS: flexible AMOLED revenues to surpass rigid OLEDs in Q3 2017

Mar 27, 2017

IHS says that demand for flexible OLED is sharply increasing and in Q3 2017 the company expects revenues of flexible OLEDs to surpass those of rigid OLEDs for the first time.

AMOLED shipments 2016-2018 (rigid vs flexible, IHS)

Flexible AMOLED revenues in Q3 will reach $3.2 billion while those of rigid (glass-based) OLEDs will reach $3 billion. Flexible AMOLED revenues will continue to climb throughout 2018 and reach about $4.5 billion in Q4 2018. Revenues of rigid OLEDs will actually start declining in 2017, according to IHS - which is a bit of a surprise, even if average panel price will decrease. Rigid OLED shipments is rising even from existing fabs as yields are improving.

OLED Automotive Market Report

Konica Minolta and Pioneer announce a new automotive OLED joint venture

Mar 25, 2017

In January 2017 we reported that Konica Minolta and Pioneer are set to merge their OLED business unit, and today Konica Minolta officially announced a joint-venture with Pioneer to accelerate automotive OLED lighting.

Konica Minolta and Pioneer will setup a joint venture, which will be called Konica Minolta Pioneer OLED. The new 50:50 JV company will be established in May 2017 with an initial capital of 490 million yen (about $4.4 million) and a focus on OLED lighting for automotive applications.

The FlexE Center in Kanpur orders a bespoke pilot R2R line for printed and flexible electronics R&D

Mar 23, 2017

The National Centre of Flexible Electronics (FlexE Centre) at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur announced that it assigned UK-based RK PrintCoat Instruments to manufacture and supply a bespoke roll-to-roll (R2R) pilot line that will be used for R&D and prototyping projects in the field of printed and flexible electronics.

FlexE R2R R&D pilot line image

The National Centre for Flexible Electronics (FlexE) was established in 2014 at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, with an aim to bring together Indian academia, industry and public research organizations for research and development of large area flexible electronics. The FlexE center develops OLED lighting and OLED signage applications and is collaborating with industrial partners in both fields. The center explores evaporation, printing and hybrid processing for OLED production.

Wisechip demonstrate new flexible and transparent PMOLED prototypes

Mar 22, 2017

Taiwan-based PMOLED maker Wisechip announced it is developing transparent and flexible PMOLED displays last year, and the company has presented new prototype displays in a trade show in Germany last week.

Wisechip flexible PMOLED prototypes (March 2017)

Wisechip demonstrated three flexible OLEDs - a 1.8" 160x32 panel and a 1.36" 128x16 panel. Both are monochrome (white) panels as you can see in the photo above. The third display is a 256x64 one. The curvature radius of Wisechip's displays is 40 mm. The photo also includes a demonstration of a PMOLED display embedded in a credit card form.

Sumitomo to construct a $130 million flexible OLED touch panel production fab in Korea

Mar 08, 2017

Reports from Japan suggest that Sumitomo Chemical decided to setup a new factory to produce touch panels for curved AMOLED displays. The new factory will be located in Korea, and the total investment is expected to reach ¥15 billion ($US 132 million). It is expected to start operating in 2018 and will have an annual capacity of 100 million panels.

Touch panel production fab, Sumitomo

Digitimes says that Sumitomo has a current market share of about 60-70% of the total AMOLED touch panel market and can currently produce 400 million touch panels for rigid glass-based AMOLEDs. Sumitomo doubled its glass AMOLED touch panel capacity in 2016 following a $165 million investment at its Pyeongtaek factory.

OLED-Info's flexible, automotive, VR/AR, microdisplays, transparent and graphene OLED market reports updated to March 2017

Mar 08, 2017

Today we published new versions of our market reports - that cover the transparent, automotive, microdisplay, VR/AR, graphene and flexible 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 March 2017.

The OLED for VR/AR Market Report:

  • Why OLEDs are adopted in almost all VR HMDs
  • What kind of displays are required for VR and AR applications
  • What the future holds for the VR and AR markets
  • Current and future VR and AR systems

The report package provides a great introduction to the emerging VR and AR market, and details the role that OLED displays will have. Read more here!

Von Ardenne and the Fraunhofer FEP to intensify their cooperation on flexible glass coating

Mar 07, 2017

Von Ardenne announced that the company developed an innovative machine to process flexible glass. The FOSA LABX 330 Glass enables a roll-to-roll glass coating process. This first of its kind machine was developed as part of the German KONFECT project, launched in 2015, together with partners Fraunhofer FEP, Schott and Tesa.

Von Ardenne FOSA LabX 330 Glass photo

Von Ardenne now says that it intends to intensify its cooperation with the Fraunhofer FEP in the flexible glass coating field. The Fraunhofer will present coating samples of glass produced using the new machine for the first time at LOPEC 2017.

LG reveals an AMOLED VR headset prototype

Mar 02, 2017

LG announced that it is developing a new VR headset that is powered by Valve's StreamVR tracking. LG demonstrated a prototype at the Game Developers Conference and revealed the specification of the device.

LG VR headset prototype (March 2017)

LG's VR headset uses dual 3.64" 1440x1280 (529 PPI) 90Hz OLED displays, produced by LG Display (which means that these are probably flexible OLEDs produced on plastic substrates). The headset provides a 110-degrees field of view, and LG is ready to make development kits later this month and will ship them to select partners.

TrendForce: Apple decided not to use a flexible OLED in next iPhone

Feb 22, 2017

Countless reports claim that the 2017 iPhone 8 (or will it be a >$1000 iPhone X?) will use AMOLED displays for at least one variant. Most of these reports suggested that Apple want to use a flexible curved AMOLED display.

iPhone 7 photo

TrendForce, following talks to supply chain sources, now says that Apple was not happy with the production yields and drop-test results of those flexible OLEDs, and the company decided to adopt a flat display (with rounded edges, what is called 2.5D glass). This design is similar to the one used in current iPhone models.