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

Visionox demonstrates new OLED panels and flexible OLED prototypes

Nov 17, 2017

Visionox participated at the 19th China International Hi-Tech Fair opened in Shenzhen, and the company demonstrated several new OLED prototype panels. Visionox demonstrate several "full-screen" AMOLEDs, including a 6.01" one and a 5.99" flexible one.

Visionox booth at the Shenzhen hi-tech fair 2017

According to the Chinese report, Visionox has stated its flexible OLED "roadmap" as the company wants to start with curved panels, then move to foldable and finally to stretchable displays. Visionox says it has achieved mass production technology for curved OLEDs, but according to our information its first flexible AMOLED fab will only begin production in the summer of 2018.

The Holst Centre developed and demonstrated a new barrier for foldable OLEDs

Nov 16, 2017

The Holst Centre is demonstrating a new optimized encapsulation (barrier) layer for foldable OLED panels. The new barrier is made from an organic layer sandwiched between two layers of silicon nitride (SiN). These are standard materials, but by optimizing the stack design the researchers at the Holst Centre were able to control its mechanical properties and create a much more flexible barrier.

Foldable OLED demonstrator with a new barrier layer (Holst, Nov 2017)

The Holst researchers used an organic material that can withstand 400 °C and can be applied by slot-die coating. This allows the SiN layers to be deposited at 350 °C, improving their quality and ability to prevent water penetration. The Holst tested the OLED prototypes that use the new barrier for 1,000 hours (in accelerated lifetime testing) and no black spots appeared, even after 10,000 folding cycles (bending radiud 0.5 mm).

Transparent OLEDs Market Report

The LOMID project partners manage to produce 1" curved WUXGA OLED Microdisplays at satisfactory yields

Nov 16, 2017

In January 2017 the EU launched a new project to develop aims to develop next-generation large-area OLED microdisplays. The so-called LOMID (Large cost-effective OLED microdisplays and their applications) project's main goal is to produce 13x21 mm (~1-inch diagonal) 1200x1290 (2,300 PPI) flexible OLED microdisplay.

LOMID OLED microdisplay prototype (Fraunhofer FEP)

Dr. Uwe Fogel, the project's coordinator from the Fruanhofer FEP institute, updated today that the consortium managed to produce the first microdisplay samples at satisfactory yields, and it is now improving these yields. LUMID partners are already demonstrating the microdisplays in smart glasses for both VR and visually-impaired people.

IHS says demand for flexible AMOLEDs to grow slower than the supply, which will lead to low fab utilization in 2018

Nov 15, 2017

IHS says that demand for flexible AMOLED displays is growing at a slower pace than expected - and also at a slower rate than its supply, and a a result the supply in 2018 will be 44% lower than the demand.

Flexible OLED supply and demand balance (IHS, 2016-2020)

IHS says that flexible OLED capacity will grow 100% in 2018 (to reach 4.4 million square meters), but demand will only grow 70% (to 2.4 million square meters). IHS says that the high price of flexible OLEDs caused smartphone makers to opt for either rigid (glass-based) OLEDs or LCDs in their 2018 models. IHS estimates that the price gap between a flexible OLED and a rigid OLED on the same 6-Gen line is about 50%.

New videos show the latest LG Display OLED installations in Korea and Hong Kong

Nov 13, 2017

LG Display published three very nice videos showcasing three new OLED lighting installations. First up is an OLED chandelier that was specifically designed for the presidential suite suite in the Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong.

As you can see in the video above, the Chandelier has a unique design that uses 36 modules each with 4 OLED Panels (for a total of 144 10x10 cm panels). The project managers (TELCS Lighting Design and Consutancy) and the chandelier designer (Joyce Wang Studio) say that only OLED lighting panels provided them with the light quality and design possibilities that they wanted.

SmartKem signs an agreement with a display maker in Taiwan to develop and produce OTFT-based displays

Nov 13, 2017

UK-based OFTF developer SmartKem announced that it has signed a Letter Of Intent (LOI) with a display maker in Taiwan to develop and mass produce commercial displays using its OTFT technology.

SmartKem OTFT transistors photo

SmartKem did not name this company, but they did say that the company produces both LCD and AMOLED displays, which means it is likely to be either AU Optronics or Innolux. It is not clear whether the Taiwanes display maker will use SmartKem's technology for future OLED or LCD displays (or, most likely, both).

Samsung reports Q3 2017 results, expects OLEDs to become mainstream for smartphones in 2018

Oct 31, 2017

Samsung reported its final financial results for Q3 2017 - this was a great quarter for Samsung as revenues reached 62 trillion Won (around $55 billion) and operation profits rose 15% from last quarter to reach 14.5 trillion Won (around $12.8 billion USD). Samsung expects next year earnings to grow mainly from its component business, with the memory market likely to remain favorable.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Plus photo

Samsung Display reported increased revenues, mostly due to strong sales of flexible OLEDs, but earnings declines as average sale price of its LCD displays declined and the investments in new OLED capacity. Specifically regarding its OLED business, SDC increased its sales of flexible OLEDs, but prices of rigid OLED panels declined.

Here are BOE Display's latest flexible and foldable AMOLED display prototypes

Oct 30, 2017

Last week BOE Display held an official ceremony during which it demonstrated its first batch of flexible OLED panels made at its new B7 6-Gen OLED fab in Chengdu. China Daily posted the video you see below showing the panels on display.

At the video you can see a foldable AMOLED prototype, a flexible display in an edge-type design, a design that seems similar to the one used in Apple's iPhone X and finally several curved OLED prototypes.

BOE officially starts to produce flexible 5.5" smartphone OLED panels at its B7 fab in Chengdu

Oct 27, 2017

A few days ago we reported that BOE started to produce flexible OLED displays at its Chengdu B7 fab, and yesterday the company held an official ceremony during which it demonstrated its first batch of flexible OLED panels, and delivered samples to representatives from Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and others Chinese phone makers - although its not clear whether any of these are already acquiring panels.

BOE Chengdu flexible OLED fab opening ceremony (Oct 2017)

The first panels produced by BOE are 5.5" in size with a resolution of 1440x2560 (QHD) - these are smartphone panels that will be adopted in an edge-type configuration. BOE says that its production line is highly automated, and BOE's panels come with a touch layer already laminated. The whole panel is just 0.03 mm thick.

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