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

TianMa starts producing rigid and flexible AMOLED panels at its 6-Gen fab in Wuhan

Apr 25, 2017

TianMa Micro-Electronics announced that its 6-Gen LTPS AMOLED fab in Wuhan, China, is now starting to produce panels. This is the first 6-Gen AMOLED line in China to enter production. The new fab will produce both rigid and flexible OLEDs.

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

According to reports TianMa is focusing on VR and AR devices, wearable devices and foldable devices. Last month TianMa demonstrated three OLED panels - a 5.5" FHD panel, a 5-inch FHD panel and a flexible 5.46" panel, so it's likely that the smartphone market is also in focus.

OLEDWorks aims to release 80-100 lm/W flexible OLEDs by 2018

Apr 24, 2017

OLEDWorks latest panel is the Brite 2 - announced in March 2016. The Brite 2 offers a brightness of 300 lumens, a high CRI (>90) and an efficiency of 60 lm/W. According to the company's roadmap, OLEDWorks aims to release 80-100 lm/W flexible panels by next year.

OLEDWorks technical roadmap 2016-2020

By 2020, OLEDWorks' panels will have an efficiency of over 100 lm/W and a lifetime of over 50,000 hours (LT70).

OLED for VR and AR Market Report

Samsung's Gen-7 A4 flexible OLED line to be ready by Q2 2018

Apr 20, 2017

According to reports from Korea, Samsung has started construction of a new flexible OLED fab, which will be called the A4 line. This will be Samsung's first Gen-7 line as the company is aiming to expand its technology gap over its upcoming OLED competitors who are all building Gen-6 line.

A Gen-7 line substrate is 1870x2200 mm in size - as opposed to 1500x1800 mm for Gen-6. This means that you can produce more displays per substrate and price per screen is lower. Scaling up evaporation OLED production is not so easy, but it seems that Samsung managed to solve its technologies hurdles - mainly the FMM metal masks and the LTPS annealing process.

LGD to supply Xiaomi with curved flexible OLED panels

Apr 19, 2017

Reports from Korea suggest LG Display has secured an OLED supply deal to Xiaomi, for the company's next-gen flagship phone. LGD will supply Xiaomi with curved flexible OLEDs, similar to the ones used in Xiamoi's Mi Note 2.

Xiaomi Mi Note 2 photo

According to the report, LGD already supplies flexible OLEDs for Xiaomi's Mi Note 2 - but with very limited volume. Once LG's E5 fab starts producing panels later this year the company's capacity will be increased dramatically and it will be able to support volume production to Xiaomi - and also to other handset makers in China. We recently reported that Apple is in talks with LGD regarding flexible OLED supply for the 2018 iPhone, and other reports say that Google is also discussing a possible supply agreement with LGD.

AUO developed a foldable AMOLED with a wide color gamut using SPS structure design

Apr 19, 2017

AU Optronics developed a new foldable AMOLED display that can endure very severe folding and environmental impact using symmetric panel stacking (SPS) with an innovative color filter structure design. The display also features a wide color gamut (95% BT.2020). This paper was awarded as a distinguished paper at SID and will be presented at DisplayWeek next month.

AUO 5'' foldable AMOLED prototype, 2017 photo

AUO demonstrated a 5" 1280x720 (295 PPI) AMOLED that was folded bidirectionally over 1.5 million times at a 4-mm bending radius - without any damage on the panel performance. AUO also developed a foldable 7.8-inch display that can be folded to a 5.5" display (bidirectionally as well). The resolution of the display in its open state is 1920x1440.

Hyundai's Genesis demonsrates a new concept car with a flexible OLED display

Apr 18, 2017

Genesis (a premium sub-brand of Hyundai) unveiled its latest concept car, the GV80 SUV. The car sports several new technologies (including a hydrogen fuel cell) - including a long curved OLED display - 22" in size.

Genesis GV80 interior photo

Earlier this year Chrysler unveiled its Portal concept car - which sported an elongated flexible OLED that seems very similar to the one used by Genesis. According to reports the Chrysler flexible OLED prototype was produced by Samsung Display.

Apple wants LGD to supply it with flexible OLEDs starting in 2018

Apr 17, 2017

Apple is moving forward with its 2017 flexible OLED phones, and the company has to rely exclusively on Samsung Display as SDC is the only OLED maker capable to produce the capacity Apple needs and the quality flexible OLEDs.

LG Display 5.5'' flexible AMOLED panel (SID 2015)

But in 2018 LGD is also planning to ramp up its flexible OLED capacity, and according to a new report from Business Korea LGD was approached by Apple with an aim to secure LG's capacity for Apple's 2018 phones. LGD reportedly did not yet make a decision - which will have to be made at the end of June once its new Flexible OLED fab comes online.

ETNews: Google wants to invest $872 million in LGD to help secure flexible OLEDs for its next-gen Pixel phone

Apr 11, 2017

ETNews reports that Google aims to help LG Display to scale up its production of flexible OLED panels. Google offered to invest 1 trillion Korean Won ($872 million USD) as it seeks to adopt LG's flexible OLEDs in future Pixel phone devices.

Google Pixel photo

Google first-gen Pixel use rigid AMOLED displays produced by Samsung Display, but Google reportedly could not get enough displays from Samsung Display (Google is not alone with this problem). Google wants to secure its supply of flexible OLEDs - the same as Apple does with its deal with SDC.

LG Display expects 50% of its revenue to come from OLED displays by 2020

Apr 08, 2017

LG Display's CTO says that the company current generates about 10% of its revenues from OLED displays, but it expects OLED's share to reach 50% by 2020.

LG 2017 OLED TV lineup photo

Currently almost all of LGD's OLED revenues come from OLED TV panels. LGD managed to reach production yields of 80% in two years, while this took 10 years to reach the same yields in LCD production. The price decline rate of OLEDs have been faster than that of LCDs - which makes LGD optimistic it will be able to increase production and profits going forward. OLEDs of course also have other advantages of LED LCDs, including the possibility of a flexible design.