BASF's Coatings division announced that OLEDWorks uses the company's flexible barrier solutions in its Bright 3 family of OLED panels (both flexible and rigid). OLEDWorks uses BASF materials as planarization layer to enable highly reliable thin-film encapsulation.
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.
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
OLEDWorks announces two new OLED lighting panels, the rigid Lumiblade Brite 3 panels and the BendOLED flexible ones.
The Brite 3 OLEDs are more efficient than OLEDWorks' current Brite 2 OLEDs, offering an efficiency of up to 85 lm/W. The brightness is 300 lumens (8,500 cd/m2) and the lifetime is 100,000 hours (L70, at 100 lumens). The Brite 3 OLEDs are available in two colors and offer a CRI of >90. The Brite 3 are offered in three product shapes: square, rectangle and round. These Lumiblade panels will be produced at OLEDWorks' Aachen production site.
Tianma demonstrated its flexible and foldable AMOLED displays at MWC 2018 earlier a couple of weeks ago, and the following video shows a nice tour of the displays at Tianma's booth.
The first display you see is a 5.5" FHD flexible AMOLED (on a Polyimide substrate). There's a long discussion there about creating a foldable Phone around that, but beyond that it is nice to see Tianma's flexible OLEDs in action.
In early 2017 LG introduced its Crystal Sound OLED technology, which vibrates a flexible OLED display panel and turns it into a speaker. This technology can create seamless OLED TV designs that do not require speakers.
In a very natural move, LGD announced today that it will bring the Crystal Sound technology to its OLED lighting panels as well. LGD will unveil the first OLED lighting speakers at the Light and Building tradeshow next week in Germany. You can see a couple of such lighting speaker designs above.
Researchers from Korea's ETRI (Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute) developed a flexible OLED panel that use a transparent graphene electrode. ETRI will detail this new graphene-based OLED panel at SID DisplayWeek 2018 in May.
A rigid graphene-based OLED prototype (ETRI 2017)
The researchers produced a "fully operational" 40x40 mm OLED panel that uses the pixelated graphene film as electrodes.
Asahi Glass developed an ultra-thin chemically strengthened 0.07 mm flexible glass that has a bending stress of over 1200 MPa - which makes it possible to use this as a cover glass for foldable devices with a curvature radius of 2.5 mm or even lower.
AGC 0.1 mm flexible glass (2011)
To create this glass, AGC developed a new process that achieved 80% higher impact-failure resistance compared to glass with conventional chemical strengthening. AGC will discuss this new glass at SID Displayweek 2018 in May - and will also hopefully demonstrate it.
In April 2017 OLEDWorks announced its roadmap for 2018-2020, stating that it will released 80-100 lm/W flexible panels in 2018. It seems that the company indeed started producing flexible curved OLED panels, even though it did not announce this officially.
Germany-based producer WALO-TL announced it will present two new OLED lighting lamps (the WALOSUMMER and WALOSPRING) - and both use a range of panels made by OLEDWorks, including curved rectangular panels. In addition, OLEDWorks published the following image on its instagram feed, showing an RGB Studio lamp that uses what seems to be the same panels.
In October 2017 BOE started to produce flexible OLED displays at its first flexible OLED line, the Chengdu B7 6-Gen fab. In addition to this fab in Chengdu, in October 2016 BOE announced another 6-Gen OLED fab, in Mianyang, with a similar capacity.
In November 2017 reports from Korea suggested that BOE is planning its third flexible OLED Line, as the Chinese company aims to ramp up production quickly and be able to supply flexible OLEDs to Apple in the future. Today BOE officially announced its plans to construct its third line in Chongqing's Liangjiang New District. BOE's new fab will cost 46.5 billion Yuan, or about $7.3 billion USD.
Japanese lighting designer Motoko Ishii is the art director of Sumitomo's booth and is showcasing several OLED chandeliers, including the OLED MINORI you see above. Motoko Ishii has been working with Sumitomo for a while now.
IHS Markit says that flexible AMOLED shipments more than tripled in 2017, and revenues reached $12 billion (up from $3.5 billion in 2016). Rigid OLED revenues decreased by 14%. In 2018 flexible OLED revenues will reach around $23 billion, and rigid OLEDs will also increase slightly to about $11 billion.
In 2016 most flexible OLED were used in a curved form factor (edge-type phones), but in 2017 about half of flexible OLED displays were used in a flat form factor (such as in the iPhone X).