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:
Fashion house Louis Vuitton demonstrated a bag with two flexible OLED displays (calling it a "Canvas Display") at the company's "Cruise 2020" show in New York earlier this week:
This is not the first Louis Vuitton OLED design - in 2017 it launched the Tambour Horizon, an Android Wear smartwatch that featured a 1.4" 390x390 round AMOLED . In 2019 the device was updated with a smaller 1.3" display.
According to Digitimes, PMOLED display maker RiTdisplay has started to produce flexible OLED lighting panels, targeting the automotive, medical and consumer (home) applications.
For the automotive market, the RiTdisplay is apparently collaborating with Luminit, through its Taiwan-subsidiary Luminit Automotive Technology. RiTdisplay is holding 30% at LAT which is already starting to supply OLED lighting panels for automotive brake lights and started low-volume shipments in Q1 2019.
Following the reports from early reviewers that the foldable screen in their Galaxy Fold devices broke down after a day or so, Samsung has decided to delay the release of its foldable smartphone.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung wants to "fully evaluate the feedback and run further internal tests". Samsung will announce a new release date int he coming weeks. Samsung did not fully disclose its initial findings and does not give a full explanation to what went wrong with these review units. Samsung did, however, state that "Initial findings from the inspection of reported issues on the display showed that they could be associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge. There was also an instance where substances found inside the device affected the display performance."
China-based OLED producer Visionox unveiled new foldable OLED prototypes at the China Information Technology Expo.
Visionox demonstrated inside and outside folding panels, 8.5-inch OLED that folds in two places and a larger 10.5-inch panel that folds in three places. Visionox says that its panels can be folded over 300,000 times.
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.