LG Makes $1.75 Billion Investment In Flexible OLED Displays For New Era Of Mobile Devices

LG Display, the world's top producer of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, is betting big on flexible organic light emitting diode (OLED) display technology driving the future of mobile devices. The South Korean outfit is so confident that flexible OLEDs will be a mainstay of tomorrow's smartphones and other mobile gadgets that it's investing 1.99 trillion South Korean won (around $1.75 billion in U.S. currency) in the technology.

The massive investment will go towards a new 6th generation (1,500mm x 1,850mm) flexible OLED display production line at its P9 plant in Paju, South Korea. Of the planned investment, LG Display's already spent 500 billion South Korean Won (~$440 million) building out supporting infrastructure. The new line, dubbed E6, will go into mass production in the second half of 2018.

LG G Flex

"A paradigm shift to OLED represents both a challenge and an opportunity for the display industry," said Dr. Sang-Beom Han, CEO and Vice Chairman of LG Display. "LG Display is determined to become the leader in the fast-growing OLED market through timely investments to maximize efficiency."

Once everything is up and running and firing on all cylinders, LG Display expects to churn out 15,000 input sheets per month. And in addition to its new line, LG Display already has a 4.5th generation flexible OLED display production lined dubbed E2 in Paju and is building yet another 6th generation production line (E5) in Gumi.

LG Display is taking charge, possibly with input from clients such as Apple that may have made the display maker privy to future plans. Unlike Samsung, Apple has yet to adopt OLED displays for iPhone devices, though that could change as early as next year. Whether or not Apple's eventual OLED contract goes to LG or Samsung remains to be seen.

Either way, LG Display isn't afraid to bet on OLED technology. It was the first to introduce a 55-inch OLED TV back in January 2013, and according to LG Display, it introduced the era of flexible OLED displays with the world's first plastic substrate-based 6-inch flexible OLED display for smartphones in October of that same year, followed by the world's first 1.3-inch circular flexible OLED display in September 2014.

While the big investment is a gamble of sorts, LG Display is just trying to stay ahead of the curve. According to IHS DisplaySearch, the market for flexible OLED displays is expected to grow from 59 million units in 2016 to 416 million units in 2020.