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 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.

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.

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

Will Hyundai Genesis adopt SDC's flexible OLEDs in future cars?

May 23, 2017

Last Month Hyuandai's premium sub-brand Genesis unveiled a concept car, the GV80 SUV, that featured a long curved OLED display - 22" in size, which we assumed was supplied by SDC. The Korea Herald reports today that Samsung is in talks with Genesis to supply OLED panels for its automobiles.

Genesis GV80 interior photo

It's not clear if this first deal involves flexible OLEDs as was demonstrated in the GV80 or whether it will involve regular rigid OLEDs. The Korea Herald reports that Samsung is strongly pushing for a comeback into the automotive market with a range of technologies including displays, batteries and even the Tizen OS.

Samsung Display to supply 180 million flexible OLED panels for the 2018 iPhone 9

May 23, 2017

According to the Korea Herald, Samsung Display has signed an agreement with Apple to supply flexible OLEDs for Apple's iPhone 9, due out in late 2018. The Korea Herald says that Apple will launch two iPhone 9 OLED models - with display sizes of 5.28" and 6.46". Of course the final display size is subject to change as the design of the iPhone 9 is not final yet.

iPhone 7 photo

SDC's total OLED shipments to Apple in 2018 will reach 180 million units, and Samsung will dedicate one of its upcoming flexible OLED fabs exclusively for Apple's displays.

OLED Microdisplays Market Report

Samsung demonstrates a 9.1" stretchable AMOLED prototype

May 22, 2017

Samsung Display is set to demonstrate 9.1-inch stretchable AMOLED prototype during SID 2017. This display can stretch up to 12 mm when pressed, and still maintain its high resolution (which SDC did not specify).

SDC Stretchable AMOLED prototype (SID 2017)

This is an exciting development - but we're all waiting for Samsung to first commercialize its foldable OLEDs, and only then can we expect to see commercial rollable and stretchable displays.

TianMa deploys Orbotech's optical inspection and testing systems in its new 6-Gen flexible OLED line in Wuhan, China

May 19, 2017

Israel-based Orbotech announced that TianMa selected the company's Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) and test systems in its new 6-Gen flexible OLED fab in Wuhan, China. Orbotech's systems will be used to optimize the quality, throughput and process efficiency at Tianma's new production line.

5.5-inch AMOLED panel produced at TianMa's 6-Gen AMOLED Fab in Wuhan

AMOLED panel produced at TianMa 6-Gen fab, Wuhan

Orbotech also reveals that Tianma's investment in this new fab will reach about $1.8 billion. The new fab has stated sample production recently and will ramp up to mass production by the end of the year. The new line capacity will reach 30,000 monthly substrates, and Tainma aims to double the capacity in 2018.

Corning announces that Samsung uses its Lotus NXT as a carrier glass in flexible OLED production

May 19, 2017

Corning announced that Samsung Display is using the company's Lotus NXT glass as the carrier glass in its latest flexible OLED panels, including those that are used in the Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones. Both these new flagship phones also adopt Corning's Gorilla Glass 5 cover glass.

Corning Louts NXT Glass photo

Samsung Display is producing its flexible OLEDs on a flexible polyimide substrate, and the Lotus NXT glass is used as a carrier glass during production (it is removed at the end of the process).

Samsung demonstrates a quad-edge OLED display

May 18, 2017

Samsung Display is demonstrating a new quad-edge flexible OLED display - that can be bent on all sides (unlike the edge-type displays currently in production that is only bent on two sides).

Samsung quad-edge flexible AMOLED (SID 2017)

SDC's quad-edge flexible OLED display won the Display Industry Awards from the Society for Information Display (at SID Display Week 2017).

BOE starts producing flexible OLEDs at its 6-Gen fab in Chengdu

May 18, 2017

According to China Daily, BOE started producing flexible OLEDs at the company's new 6-Gen fab in Chengdu. BOE's new fab has a capacity of 45,000 monthly substrates - enough to make around 90 million smartphone sized AMOLEDs annually. It's likely that BOE only started pilot production currently, as earlier estimates were that full production will only begin towards the end of 2017.

Flexible AMOLED prototype (BOE, Chengdu fab)

According to the report the total investment in this new fab will reach $6.75 billion - higher than earlier reports of around $3 billion (more on this below).

LG to start adopting flexible OLEDs in all its premium smartphones, starting with the V30

May 17, 2017

LG Display's 900 million E5 line in Gumi is scheduled to start producing flexible AMOLED soon, and according to the Korea Herald LG aims to adopt flexible OLEDs in its upcoming V30 smartphone (due out in September) and also in the 2018 G7 phone.

LG 6'' flexible OLED edge phone prototype photo

The Korea Herald says that LG aims to start adopting OLEDs in all its future smartphones - although it is likely that the Korean maker will only use OLEDs in premium phones (especially as it is only producing high-end flexible OLEDs rather than glass based ones). LGD will also reportedly devote some of its capacity to Chinese phone makers.

Royole orders production equipment from SFA Engineering for its upcoming flexible OLED fab

May 02, 2017

SFA Engineering announced that it has signed a $53.5 million contract with OLED developer Royole to supply OLED manufacturing equipment. SFA did not disclose what kind of deposition equipment it will deliver exactly.

Royole is constructing a 5.5-Gen flexible OLED production facility in Shenzhen, China. The new fab is scheduled to begin operation in 2018 and will have a monthly capacity of 45,000 substrates.

Samsung posts $8.75 billion in revenues for Q1 2017, good OLED performance led by flexible OLED sales

Apr 27, 2017

Samsung Electronics announced its financial results for Q1 2017, with the highest quarterly operating profit ($8.75 billion) since 2013 - as Samsung's component business boomed while its mobile phone sales were down.

Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro photo

Samsung Display reports that OLED performance improved compared to both last year and last quarter due to strong demand an increased sales of its new flexible AMOLED displays. Revenue is expected to continue growing in the coming years, mostly due to an increase in flexible OLED supply in the second half ot the year. Samsung is worried however from growing competitiveness for its mid to low-end rigid OLED sales from high-end LTPS LCD panels.