While the first foldable smartphone is expected to arrive next year, such devices could start gaining popularity only by 2019. This was revealed by Kang Chung-soek of Kolon Industries, currently the only company in the world that is capable of mass producing colorless polyimide required for making foldable displays. Kolon Industries is said to be supplying the materials to leading companies such as Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and BOE, although none of these companies have confirmed it officially.
According to the executive, five major tech companies are expected to begin mass production of foldable smartphones globally in 2018. Roughly a year later, in 2019, foldable smartphones are expected to capture 20% share of the South Korean smartphone market. He also added that the first foldable devices that are due for launch next year will have a bend radius of 5 millimeters and not 1 millimeter as being speculated. With a bend radius of 1 millimeter, both sides of the panels can almost be touched to one another, making it seem like they are completely folded. While that may look uber-cool, it could cause potential safety issues. This is the main reason why tech companies are going to start with a 5 millimeter bend radius and then gradually make their way to 1mm in the future.
Kolon Industries’ flexible colorless polyimide will be replacing rigid glass sheets on future foldable devices and is likely to be used on most foldable devices releasing in the near future. The company intends to mass produce such films for roughly 100 million units of foldable devices in 2018.
Source: Korea Herald