IHS says that the demand for flexible AMOLED is rising dramatically (following the success of Samsung's Galaxy Edge series and the Apple Watch), and display makers are aggressively investing in expanded production capacity and flexible OLED technologies.

Flexible vs Rigid AMOLED production 2015-2018 (IHS)

In 2014, flexible OLED shipments were only 2% of all AMOLED panel shipments. In 2015 57 million flexible AMOLED were produced, to grab a 20% share of the total AMOLED market (285 million panels, according to IHS). By 2020, flexible AMOLEDs will represent 40% of the total AMOLED market. Of course rigid AMOLED production will rise too - but the growth rate for flexible OLEDs is expected to be much higher than for rigid ones.

Currently Samsung is the clear leader in flexible OLEDs - and IHS estimates that some display makers will altogether skip rigid OLEDs and go directly to flexible OLED production. IHS also estimates that the first foldable phone will appear in early 2016 - which seems a bit optimistic as it's more likely that Samsung will not be ready with such a device until later in 2016 or early 2017.

Samsung will unveil its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S7 early next week, and it's likely that there will also be an Edge variant. According to reports Samsung aims to produce 9 million flexible OLEDs each month to satisfy demand for the new phone. Following the success of the GS6 Edge, Samsung hurried to start mass production in its A3 flexible OLED fab.

LGD 18'' rollable OLED prototype (CES 2016)



LG currently produces plastic-based OLEDs in its Gen-4.5 fab, with a monthly capacity of 14,000 substrates. LG Display's flexible AMOLEDs are used in LG's mobile phones (the G Flex 2), wearable devices (such as the Watch Urbane) and in Apple's Watch. In July 2015, LGD commenced constructing a new 6-Gen (1500x1850 mm) flexible OLED fab in a $900 million investment. The new E5 line will be located at LGD's Gumi Plant and will have a capacity of 7,500 monthly substrates - or 1.5 million 5.5" panels. The new fab is scheduled to begin mass production in the first half of 2017.

Everdisplay 5.6'' WQHD flexible AMOLED prototype photo (September 2015)

According to a report from Korea, BOE, Everdisplay and Truly are expected to start constructing flexible OLED fabs in the first half of 2016. In May 2015, BOE demonstrate several new AMOLED prototypes, including several flexible panels, and Everdisplay recently unveiled a 5.6" WQHD (2560x1440, 525 PPI) flexible AMOLED prototype.

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