For the past several years, LG Display has been heavily invested in the concept of flexible OLED panels and, in fact, back in November 2013 LG became one of the world's smartphone makers to release a handset with a curved screen, namely the LG G Flex. However, as one of the world's most prominent OLED panel manufacturers, LG Display is now looking to expand its business into other markets beyond the smartphone and TV niche. Today the company announced its plans to invest in a new OLED light panel factory, which will be capable of mass production in the first half of 2017.
LG Corp. is one of the world's largest holding companies operating in the electronic, chemical, and telecom industries. Last year in December, one of LG Corp's smaller companies – LG Chem – was acquired by the company's own display business, namely "LG Display". Following this acquisition, LG Display is now set to open a new OLED light panel factory in the city of Gumi in South Korea. The idea is to expand its OLED business beyond the mobile device and TV niche and create OLED flexible light panels for its lighting business in its homeland. These panels will be used for lighting and decorative lighting in luxury hotels and high-end retail stores, and LG Display will also "focus on automotive and convergence applications such as OLED light panels merged with furniture". According to UBI Research, the OLED light market is expected to grow from $135 Million this year to roughly $1.6 billion in 2020.
The official press release mentions that the plant will be the world's first 5th generation flexible OLED light panel manufacturing facility. The plant will have an initial production capacity of 15,000 glass substrates (1000 x 1200 mm) per month, but production could gradually ramp up if demand will be high enough. Since OLED light panels emit lower heat levels and require less energy than conventional lighting, and because LG Display will be able to produce OLED panels in various sizes, the technology can be used for a wide range of venues and applications. Whether LG Display's latest venture will create any ripples in the smartphone market remains to be seen.