The two main manufacturers of OLED displays have both announced large investment to expand their production capacities. Samsung Display has plans to spend more than $3bn between 2015 and 2017 to build a new production line. Its rival LG Display is trying to lead the industry by committing over $9bn for two new manufacturing plants.
OLED displays that are manufactured on flexible substrates have been successfully introduced on the market, featuring in consumer devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge or the Apple Watch. Compared to conventional glass-based displays, plastic OLED displays are much thinner and lighter, enabling slimmer devices or bigger batteries. Future flexible displays will also make foldable mobile devices a reality, observes Dr Guillaume Chansin, Senior Technology Analyst at IDTechEx.
The rise of plastic and flexible displays is the most important trend in the industry and is offering opportunities in the supply chain, notes the analyst. Recently, Kateeva raised another $88m to accelerate its growth. The company supplies the mass production equipment to deposit thin film encapsulation on flexible OLED displays. All the new investors are located in China and include BOE and TCL Capital.
"We now expect the market for plastic and flexible OLED displays will reach $18 billion by 2020. The two main segments are currently smart phones and smart watches. Once the technology becomes more mature it will be possible to see larger sizes and applications in automotive displays", writes Chansin.