Flexible Displays


LONDON, Oct. 3, 2017 () — “OLED, E-Paper, LCD, and LED Displays for Mobile Devices, Wearables, Shelving Labels, Appliances, Smart Cards, E-Writers, E-Readers, Automotive, and Other Applications: Market Analysis and Forecasts

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In a flexible display, the backplane, frontplane, and any encapsulants are all made from flexible materials.

To date, such displays have been used primarily because they are thinner, lighter, and more durable than comparable rigid displays, and to a lesser extent because they are conformable to rigid but non-flat surfaces in devices such as mobile phone handsets, automobile dashboards, and appliance control panels.

In 2017, key flexible display components achieved cost and performance parity with their rigid counterparts for the first time, thus removing a key market barrier and opening the door to rapid adoption in a variety of otherwise
– rigid devices such as e-readers and wearables.

Such displays may also be incorporated into truly flexible devices such as credit cards, shelving labels, and smart signage, and in the near future they may form the basis of rollable and foldable devices that define entirely new market categories.

Collectively, the effect of flexible and conformable displays will be transformational, literally changing the appearance and function of our personal devices, our vehicles, our homes, and the built environment.

Tractica’s research indicates that the four leading technologies in flexible displays are LED, LCD, OLED, and e-paper, and the main applications for these technologies are phones and tablets, wearables, shelving labels, signage, automotive dashboards, appliance control panels, TV and video displays, smart cards, e-writers, and e-readers.

Starting from a base of $2 billion 2017, Tractica forecasts that global flexible display revenue will reach $12.2 billion by 2022, with cumulative revenue for the 6-year period totaling $39.0 billion.

This Tractica report examines the market trends and technology issues surrounding flexible displays and presents 6-year market forecasts, segmented by world region, for flexible display unit shipments, square meters, device pricing and revenue, and software applications during the period from 2017 through 2022.

Flexible display applications are analyzed in depth, and the report also includes detailed profiles of 13 key industry players.
Key Market Forecasts
– Flexible Display Unit Shipments by Display Type and Product Type, World Markets: 2017-2022
– Flexible Display Unit Shipments by Region, World Markets: 2017-2022
– Flexible Display Revenue by Display Type and Product Type, World Markets: 2017-2022
– Flexible Display Revenue by Region, World Markets: 2017-2022
– Flexible Organic Light-Emitting Diode Display Revenue by Region, World Markets: 2017-2022
– Flexible Liquid Crystal Display Revenue by Region, World Markets: 2017-2022
– Flexible E-Paper Display Revenue by Region, World Markets: 2017-2022

End Use Markets 
– Appliances
– Automotive dashboards and displays
– Digital shelving labels
– Digital signage
– E-readers
– E-writers
– Mobile phones
– Smart cards
– TV and video displays
– Wearables

– Electrophoretic / e-paper
– Flexible circuitry

North America
Asia Pacific
Latin America
Middle East and Africa

Key Questions Addressed 
– What is the current state of the flexible display market and how will it develop over the next 6 years?
– Who are the key players in flexible display manufacturing, what is their competitive positioning, and which ones are poised for greatest success in the years ahead?
– How large is the flexible display market opportunity, both for hardware and software, and what are the future pricing trends for flexible display components?
– What are the key applications for various flexible display technologies?
– What are the primary use cases that will drive adoption of flexible displays?
– What are the key drivers of market growth, and the key challenges faced by the industry, in each world region?

Who Needs This Report? 
– Flexible display technology developers
– Consumer electronics companies
– Semiconductor and component vendors
– Software developers and integrators
– Government agencies
– Investor community

Traditional text, image, and video displays, whether based on light emitting diode (LED), liquid crystal display (LCD), organic LED (OLED), or electrophoretic (EPD or e-paper) technology, consist of a set of common elements.

First is the backplane, which provides structural support and an array of thin-film transistors (TFTs) that operate each pixel. Next is the frontplane, which contains the color-changing pixels themselves, and may also include a touch-sensitive layer. On top of that is a barrier layer, which protects the frontplane from pressure, impact, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and moisture.

Typically, the backplane and barrier layers are both made of glass, and the frontplane may incorporate several layers of glass as well, sometimes separated by glass microspheres that maintain a constant cell gap between them. Finally, there are encapsulants that seal the edges of the stack, and a housing in which it all resides.

Bent or curved displays can also be made this way, with the curvature formed directly into the components at the time of manufacture. These displays are sometimes loosely referred to as “flexible,†although this is not strictly accurate. Glass may also be used that is thinner, stronger, and more flexible than usual, such as Gorilla Glass from Corning.

With a proprietary composition and a unique “fusion fabrication†process, Gorilla Glass can be flexed to a much greater degree than ordinary soda-silica-lime glass of equivalent strength, and thus can allow these displays a limited degree of flexure as well. The degree of flexibility depends on the number and thickness of the various layers in the stack, but typically is not relevant because the display will be encased in a rigid housing in any event. Here, flexible glass is used only because it is lighter and less prone to breakage.

In a conformable display, the backplane, frontplane, and any encapsulants must all be flexible themselves. However, in the vast majority of cases, the flexibility is taken advantage of only once, to fit the display into or around a non-flat area, such as an automobile dashboard, curved or bezel-less phone screen, or architectural column. Thus, fatigue is not an issue. In these cases, the barrier layer and housing may still be rigid, though curved.

However, the elimination of glass within the display itself allows the display to be shatterproof, as well as much thinner and lighter than a traditional display.

A truly flexible display is one in which all of the layers, including the barrier and housing, are flexible. Such devices have been demonstrated for many years now, but have found very limited commercial application. This may be about to change, however, due to changes in the market and in the underlying technology. Collectively, the effect of flexible and conformable displays will be transformational, literally changing the appearance and function of our personal devices, our vehicles, our homes, and the build environment.

This report confines itself to displays that are either conformable or truly flexible. Rigid plate panels are a mature technology, and rigid curved panels have not yet proven to be anything more than a curiosity, so it is clear that the major growth in the 2017 to 2022 timeframe will be in flexible displays.

The flexible backplane is a critical component of any conformable or flexible display.
Traditionally, this has been more expensive than a glass backplane, both because of smaller manufacturing volumes and because the manufacturing process itself is more complex.

However, prices have been declining, and in 2017, they achieved parity with glass backplanes for the first time. In parallel with this, equipment amortization and economies of scale have brought down the price of other flexible components, such as active matrix organic LEDs (AMOLEDs). As a result, many conformable and flexible displays are now cost-competitive with rigid displays, at least within certain size ranges.

The technologies involved in flexible and conformable displays are LED, LCD, AMOLED, and EPD (or e-paper). Significant developments have been made in each of these fields, either to improve performance or to reduce price, or both. At the same time, progress in flexible backplanes has enabled them to be swapped in for rigid ones at no extra cost. As of this writing, the primary barriers to adoption of flexible and conformable displays exist more in the marketplace than in the laboratory.

Although the consumer market for flexible and conformable displays is mostly limited to handheld devices at the moment, Tractica believes that a number of forces will conspire to bring this technology to the forefront of multiple fields, including consumer electronics, automotive, digital signage, wearables, clothing, and jewelry. Between 2017 and 2022, Tractica anticipates significant growth in each area. Typically, this will cannibalize the market for traditional rigid displays, but it can also lead to the adoption of entirely new devices and form factors, or to increased popularity of existing devices with improved characteristics.”

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