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Mar 15, 2018
Since the launch of the smartphone in 2007, their popularity has grown exponentially, with 6.1 billion people projected to own one of these indispensable devices by 2020. In addition to soaring adoption rates, the devices themselves have continued to grow as well in processing power and functionality - but especially in screen size. The very first smartphones featured low-resolution displays measuring between 3 and 4 inches. Today, the average smartphone display is around 5.5 inches, but with recent breakthroughs in flexible OLED (organic light emitting diode) technology, next year's smartphones may have much bigger screens - but take up less space in your pocket.
Leading global smartphone manufacturers have been working on foldable phones in recent years, and, based on industry reports, may finally be ready to introduce a smartphone with flexible display technology. The consumer appeal of a foldable device is obvious: a compact handset that can switch between smartphone and tablet form. Rollable displays, another related application, recently debuted at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. With a functioning flexible OLED TV, you will be able to roll up your TV, throw it in your backpack and take it to a friend's house.
Whether bent, folded, or rolled, the potential for flexible OLED displays is huge. The plastic, organic layers of an OLED display are thinner, lighter and more flexible than LCDs, and, unlike LCDs, do not require backlighting yet are brighter. However, for the small bending radius required in a smart phone, foldable display modules face challenges in both materials and process technologies.
All layers of a foldable display (including the panel, touch sensors, polarizer and cover plate) need to be bendable and transparent. In addition, all the layers will need to be extremely durable and tough to withstand the 100,000 or so cycles of folding across the average life of a smartphone.
At tesa, our acrylic and PE foam screen mounting tapes undergo rigorous testing to meet the demands of next-generation flexible display technology. This includes static stress on the different component materials when folded as well as dynamic stress of the material while unfolding.
Even though the potential future of foldable displays is very promising, smartphone makers must first figure out a myriad of process, materials, and manufacturing issues. As a leading global supplier to the global consumer electronics OEMs, tesa is working closely with designers and engineers to overcome many of the challenges associated with flexible displays. From our solutions for lateral OLED encapsulation to our optically clear lamination of flexible films onto flexible substrates, we bring a proven level of expertise to the development of next-generation smartphones. To learn more about how tesa is helping make flexible OLED displays a marketplace reality, please check our solutions for display tapes.