While flexible displays enable a host of new applications – roll-up displays, for example – the things they don’t do are also appealing. Flexible displays – which can be made on substrates such as plastic --don’t break as easily as glass, for example.
One of the issues that’s been holding advancement of this technology back is low yields. That’s set to change, said Jerry Kang, principal analyst at IHS. “Flexible OLED production yield has improved dramatically over the last few years, which could prompt panel manufacturers to ramp up flexible OLED production lines,” he said. “Market growth could also accelerate when flexible displays debut in foldable, rollable and stretchable forms.”
Flexible displays are not only leading to sprawling applications and revolutionizing the display market, but they are also an increasingly important segment of overall display market revenues, according to IHS’s Flexible Display Technology and Market Report. In fact, flexible displays are expected to comprise 15 percent of the total display market revenue in 2024. The technology that enables flexible displays is organic light-emitting diode, which can be sprayed on substrates like ink. As OLED production continues to improve, revenue from flexible display production will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 44 percent from 2014, to reach $23 billion in 2024, the IHS report says.
Rugged, light, thin, non-brittle and portable flexible displays are feeding the market for various applications. For example, LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics have both applied flexible OLEDs to their flagship smartphones, to bolster sales in the slowing premium-smartphone market. The Apple Watch, which uses flexible display technology, has also added to the momentum of OLED in wearable devices. “Flexible display technology is not only gathering heated attention from electronics giants, but it is also stimulating startups to experiment with novel applications and innovations,” Kang said.