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

IHS sees flexible AMOLEDs taking over rigid ones in 2020

According to IHS, flexible AMOLED shipments reached 157.6 million units in 2018 - about 38.9% of the total AMOLED market (rigid + flexible). Flexible OLEDs will grow at a much faster rate than rigid OLEDs, and shipments will exceed those of rigid OLEDs by 2020 (335.7 million units). In 2022 over 400 million flexible AMOLED panels will be produced, compared to around 340 million rigid AMOLEDs.

Flexible AMOLED shipment forecast (2015-2022, IHS)

IHS sees demand for flexible OLEDs by smartphone brands that want to diffrentite their products using curved displays and full-screen ones. Foldable displays are also expected to be a key technology for mobile devices in the foreseeable future.

Solomon Systech expects strong growth for its AMOLED driver business, announced a new flexible OLED touch controller IC

Hong-Kong display driver develop Solomon Systech says that it expects strong growth for its advanced AMOLED touch controller ICs. The company says it has received several design-wins and design-in projects with OLED makers in Taiwan, Japan and China for top global smartphone brands.

Solomon Systech flexible/foldable touch IC image

Solomon also announced its next-generation flexible/foldable AMOLED touch controller IC. The company says that the new driver will deliver a step change in power and noise immunity which will enable device makers to innovate with ultra-thin displays and new foldable design concepts. The first sample of the new IC is expected to be available by the end of 2018.

OLED Microdisplays Market Report

Tianma to start constructing the 2nd phase of its 6-Gen flexible AMOLED fab in Wuhan

Tianma started producing rigid and flexible OLEDS in April 2017 at the company's 6-Gen fab in Wuhan, and on June 27th the company announced that it plans to construct the 2nd phase of the Wuhan AMOLED fab.

Tianma's Wuhan expansion project will cost around 14.5 billion Yuan ($2.12 billion USD) and will take about 25 months - so production at the 2nd phase is scheduled for September 2020. When the 2nd phase is complete' Tianma's flexible AMOLED capacity will be 37,500 monthly 6-Gen substrates.

OLED-Info's transparent, flexible, VR/AR, microdisplays, automotive and graphene OLED market reports updated to July 2018

Today we published new versions of our market reports - that cover the flexible, transparent, VR/AR, microdisplays, automotive 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 July 2018.

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!

Everdisplay starts to install equipment at its 6-Gen flexible AMOLED line in Shanghai, announces its first flexible OLED panel

In 2016 China-based Everdisplay (EDO) started to construct a 6-Gen flexible AMOLED fab in Shanghai. In August 2017 EDO said that it finished the building's main steel frame roof, and yesterday EDO announced that it has finished constructing the building and the cleanrooms, and it has started to install the production equipment - a month earlier than it originally planned.

Everdisplay 6-gen flexible AMOLED fab in Shanghai, equipment installation

EDO's new fab will have a capacity of 30,000 monthly substrates (1500 x 1850 mm) and will be used to produce small and medium sized flexible AMOLEDs (1 to 15 inch). EDO aims to begin trial production in January 2019 and mass production in 2021.

The Fraunhofer FEP develops a new technology to produce ultra-smooth polymer films

The Fraunhofer FEP announced that it developed a new technology to produce ultra-smooth polymer films. The new technology can be used to produce low-defect density films in a roll-to-roll based process, suitable for a wide range of applications - including encapsulation films, touch layers and as OLED substrates.

Fraunhofer OptiPerm ultra-smooth polymer films photo

This technology was developed as part of the EU-funded OptiPerm project. The Fraunhofer researchers say that this new innovative process does not require any special processing environment and could be used under standard factory conditions.

CLSA: it is too soon to talk about an OLED recovery

DSCC recently said that SDC's OLED fab utilization is starting to improve as production starts for next-gen iPhones and Galaxy phones, and UBI Research also says that the market recovery is starting. CLSA, however, says that it is too soon to talk about OLED recovery.

CLSA agrees that SDC's fab utilization will rise from about 35% to 80% in the second half of 2018, but CLSA also believes that Samsung is not even considering the A4 fab (30,000 monthly substrates) which will remain idle, which means that actual utilization will be lower than stated.

Wisechip and Kyulux to bring a flexible TADF/HF PMOLED to the market by the end of 2018

Kyulux and Wisechip unveiled a flexible PMOLED display that uses Kyulux’s Hyperfluoresence yellow emitter. Wisechip says that the power consumption of this display is almost half of Wisechip's regular fluorescent yellow PMOLED.

Wisechip 1.71'' flexible TADF/HF PMOLED (SID 2018)

The first flexible HF PMOLED is a 1.71″ 256x64 display, that is now ready to be produced (Wisechip says this will enter mass production before the end of 2018). Wisechip originally aimed to introduce its first glass-based HF yellow emitter PMOLED by the end of 2017, but it seems they decided to jump straight to a flexible panel.