LG starts mass producing curved OLED smartphone displays

8 Oct 2013

Image via Peter Sobolev/Shutterstock

Innovative display-maker LG Display has announced its first curved OLED panel for smartphones has gone into mass production as the South Korean manufacturer pushes forward to capitalise on a potentially lucrative market.

LG’s curved OLED screen is vertically concave with a radius of 700mm, which means it curves from top to bottom rather than from side to side. It measures just 0.44mm in thickness, making it one of the slimmest among mobile device panels. This keeps it light, too, and a 6-inch screen weighs just 7.2g.

The display can bend in a curved shape because it has been built on plastic substrates instead of glass. Film-type encapsulation technology was applied and the protection film was attached to the back of the panel to make it both bendable and unbreakable. The panel being mass produced is fixed in place, but LG has future plans for rollable and foldable displays of various sizes.

A growing bendable market

“The flexible display market is expected to grow quickly as this technology is expected to expand further into diverse applications, including automotive displays, tablets and wearable devices,” said Dr Sang Deog Yeo, executive vice-president and chief technology officer of LG Display. “Our goal is to take an early lead in the flexible display market by introducing new products with enhanced performance and differentiated designs next year.”

LG’s announcement cites figures from research company IHS Display Bank, which predicts the global flexible display industry will be a US$1.5bn market by 2016, and be worth more than US$10bn by 2019.

LG isn’t the only manufacturer building products for this market, either. Fellow South Korean tech titan Samsung is expected to launch a curved screen edition of the Galaxy Note 3 later this month.

Both LG and Samsung are key innovators in building curved displays, having both created these panels for the TV market. LG’s 55-inch curved OLED TV started shipping in May this year and, on Monday, online orders opened up for Irish customers. The 55EA980 TV will be available for purchase from select Harvey Norman stores from Friday, 11 October.

Flexible smartphone image by Peter Sobolev via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.