Emerging Technology

Samsung and LG to begin flexible display production in November, but production will initially be limited

Andrew Sadauskas /

Samsung and LG are both set to begin production on flexible OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays for smartphones and tablets in November, according to Korean press reports.

ETNews reports both companies have limited initial production capacity and are keen to observe market reactions to the technology before making any significant investment in new factories or equipment.

Currently, Samsung Display have a production line serving both rigid and flexible displays capable of handling 8000 1300x1500mm sheets per month, although even with a yield of 100%, this would only produce between 1 million and 1.5 million 5 to 6-inch panels per month.

The use of some displays for product development and the use of the same production line for R&D test runs of products further constrains production to several hundred thousand units per months.

Given Samsung shipped around 72.4 million smartphones during the second quarter of 2013, sources say it’s unlikely Samsung will manufacture a flexible screen successor to the Galaxy S4 is, at this point, unlikely.

Samsung had been rumoured to be looking at the possibility of using a flexible screen display for its Galaxy Note 3 device last month, with the company set to decide before the end of August. The limited production capacity means this is increasingly unlikely.

LG’s capacity is even lower, with its plants currently handling 12,000 730×920 sheets per month, meaning less than 500,000 panels per month with an unrealistic yield of 100%.

While Corning announced a bendable glass technology in June of last year, prompting Samsung to investigate mass producing devices based on the technology in July, with Professor Keon Jae Lee from the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology announcing the development a prototype flexible battery in August.

However, Samsung soon ran into production difficulties, with reports surfacing in October that a “senior industry official” claiming problems with production yields were delaying the mass-production of flexible AMOLED displays. At the time, the company hoped to resolve the issues by the close of 2012, with mass-production expected at the time to begin in early 2013.

Several other firms including LG, Philips, Sharp, Sony and Nokia are also working on flexible devices are also reportedly working on the technology.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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