Use of plastic, flexible OLED displays grows
By Dr Guillaume Chansin, senior technology analyst, IDTechExOptoelectronics Supply Chain
Market expected to reach $18-billion by 2020
IDTechEx Research has just released new forecasts for the OLED display market. OLED is an emissive display technology which is gaining significant market share against liquid crystal displays (LCD). OLED was initially adopted in mobile phones but can now be found in tablets, TVs, and wearables. This latest IDTechEx Research report, OLED Display Forecasts 2016-2026: The Rise of Plastic and Flexible Displays, says the market will reach nearly $16b-billion this year and will grow to $57-billion in 2026.
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 $3-billion between 2015 and 2017 to build a new production line. Their rival LG Display is trying to lead the industry by committing over $9-billion for two new manufacturing plants.
OLED displays manufactured on flexible substrates
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.
The rise of plastic and flexible displays is the most important trend in the industry and is offering opportunities in the supply chain. Recently, Kateeva raised another $88-million to accelerate their 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.
OLED displays will reach $18-billion by 2020
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.
New applications in wearable devices such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are also coming to market and provide new opportunities for suppliers of OLED displays. Sony, Oculus, and HTC have already announced new VR headsets based on OLED. In AR glasses, OLED microdisplays could replace LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) as the main display technology.