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Manufacturers Expand Flexible AMOLED Production Capacity in 2016: IHS

Feb 26, 2016 | By Quincy Liang

With the growing popularity of the Samsung Galaxy Edge series and the Apple Watch, display manufacturers are expanding their production capacities of flexible active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) displays, according to IHS Inc. 

While comprising just 2 percent of all AMOLED panel shipments in 2014, the share of flexible AMOLED panels rose to 20 percent of the total AMOLED display market in 2015, reaching 57 million units, said IHS.

AMOLED Production Capacity Forecast (Source: IHS Inc.)

AMOLED Production Capacity Forecast (Source: IHS Inc.)

The unit-shipment share of flexible AMOLED is expected to grow to 40 percent of total AMOLED panel shipments by 2020. Rigid AMOLED panel shipments, by comparison, grew 30 percent to reach 233 million units in 2015, IHS pointed out. Production capacity for flexible AMOLED panels is expected to exceed 1.5 million square meters (24 percent of total AMOLED display production capacity area) in 2016.

“As the demand for flexible AMOLED rises dramatically, display manufacturers are aggressively investing in flexible AMOLED, including the latest foldable and rollable displays,” said Jerry Kang, principal analyst of display research for IHS Technology. “In fact, the growth rate for flexible AMOLED panels is expected to be much higher than for rigid AMOLED panels beginning in 2016.

According to the IHS OLED Technology, Strategy & Market Report, Samsung Display reduced its manufacturing cost for rigid AMOLED panels to compete with low temperature poly-silicon (LTPS) liquid crystal displays (LCDs). Samsung Display's dominance in the rigid AMOLED market, now leading other panel makers, enables the Korean maker to skip production of rigid AMOLED displays entirely and proceed directly to flexible AMOLED production.

“Manufacturers feel it's already too late to compete in the rigid AMOLED market, where Samsung Display is already so far ahead,” said Kang. “Furthermore, a growing number of smartphone manufacturers, including Apple, are looking to thinner and lighter flexible AMOLED displays to differentiate their products, which is motivating even more panel makers to rapidly shift their business focus to flexible AMOLED.”

AUO demonstrated a 1.4-inch, full-circle AMOLED display for smart watches in mide-2015. (photo from AUO)
AUO demonstrated a 1.4-inch, full-circle AMOLED display for smart watches in mide-2015. (photo from AUO)

AU Optronics Corp. (AUO), reportedly the second-largest thin film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panel manufacturer, has been aggressively developing AMOLED products and said  that it will not be left out the race to develop the latest display technologies. AUO is scheduled to kick off mass production of LTPS LCD panels at a sixth-generation (6G) factory in the second half. The company already has accumulated know-how and expertise at its 4.5G LTPS panel factory.

Regarding AMOLED, AUO said that it is focusing on developing high-end, value-added AMOLED panels, such as a full-circle panels for smartwatch applications. As OLED products require higher investments, AUO said that it will continue to focus on developing panels for especially wearable devices and virtual reality (VR) applications.

AUO has at its disposal mature AMOLED technology, the firm said, and is observing the market and waiting to launch such products as the right moment presents itself. The company is confident of taking a technologically leading role after it demonstrates flexible AMOLED panels that boast near-zero defect rate and versatile applications.

Innolux Corp., reportedly the No. 1 TFT-LCD panel supplier in Taiwan, has also been aggressively developing new products. The company also said that it will continue to compete in the AMOLED market; while its 6G LTPS line is scheduled to kick off mass production in the first quarter this year.


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