ETNews: LG Display partnered with Apple, Google and Microsoft to develop foldable displays

Korean news site ETNews says that LG Display is partnering with Apple, Google and Microsoft to develop a foldable OLED display for smartphones. The plan is for LGD to start producing such displays in 2018. LG Electronics is also part of this project, but apparently the first customers for these displays will be the three US-based companies.

ETNews calls these displays "out-foldable" displays, which probably means that the target devices are a smartphone-sized devices that open-up to have a tablet-like display. According to ETNews LGD recently developed an impressive prototype of those displays. LGD news is carrying out most of the development of this display.

LG currently produces plastic-based OLEDs in its Gen-4.5 fab (E2), with a monthly capacity of 14,000 substrates (more than double its capacity in the beginning of 2014). LG Display's flexible AMOLEDs are used in LG's mobile phones (the G Flex 2), wearable devices (such as the Watch Urbane) and in Apple's Watch. Production volume in this fab, though is still low.

LG Display next flexible OLED fab will be its $900 million E5 6-Gen flexible OLED fab - which will have a capacity of 7,500 monthly substrates - or 1.5 million 5.5" panels. The new fab is scheduled to begin mass production in the first half of 2017, and LG already started to install equipment in that fab. Perhaps LGD aims to produce those foldable displays at the E5 line.

In July 2016 LGD also announced the E6 line, a 6-Gen (1500x1850 mm) flexible OLED production line in Paju, South Korea. The investment in the new E6 line will total $1.7 billion USD. The E6 line will have a monthly capacity of 15,000 G6 substrates, and is scheduled to begin production in the second half of 2018.

Samsung seems to be the most advanced company on the way to foldable OLEDs, though. SDC is working on foldable displays for many years, as the company is looking to release a foldable phone that will be able to merge the phone and tablet markets (or possible a small phone that opens to a smartphone sized display). The company has recently accelerated its efforts, and such a phone may be released in 2017. A recent report claims that Samsung will soon test the foldable-smartphone waters with a dual-display smartphone.

Posted: Dec 16,2016 by Ron Mertens