Recent reports from South Korea indicate that LG Innotek is gearing up for the production of flexible printed circuit boards (PCBs) for OLED (organic light emitting diode) smartphone displays. According to sources with supposed knowledge of the matter, LG Innotek will start mass-producing flexible PCBs for the mobile market next year (2018) when it will begin rivaling Samsung Electro-Mechanics on the flexible PCB market. Reportedly, the company’s main clients will be Apple Inc. as well as the conglomerate’s own smartphone branch, LG Electronics.
Samsung Electro-Mechanics is currently leading the flexible PCB segment and the company’s market presence is only expected to increase following its collaboration with Apple. Samsung is currently Apple’s main supplier for flexible PCBs required for the manufacturing of the iPhone 8, which is expected to hit the shelves later this year carrying a curved OLED display in tow. But as the need for flexible PCBs continues to increase, LG Innotek is preparing to capture some of the market share and aims to be able to mass-manufacture flexible PCBs starting next year. The company will reportedly begin the construction of additional flexible PCB facilities in the second half of this year, and according to an unnamed industry representative cited by BusinessKorea, LG Innotek’s flexible PCB business will likely grow to 300 billion Korean Won (roughly $270 million) within the next few years. This expected growth is mainly attributed to LG’s collaboration with Apple as the Cupertino, California-based firm is reportedly looking for other flexible PCB suppliers aside from Samsung Electro-Mechanics in order to avoid potential supply issues and mass production bottlenecks.
While LG Innotek is now apparently preparing to become a primary flexible PCB supplier, its main local rival – Samsung Electro-Mechanics – already has a couple of years of market experience in this segment. Samsung Electronics’ first smartphone to adopt a flexible PCB alongside a curved OLED panel was the Galaxy S6 Edge unveiled in March 2015. The device carried a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED panel with a resolution of 2560 x 1440, a pixel density of around 577 pixels per inch, and a screen-to-body ratio of around 71.7 percent. As for LG Innotek, it remains to be seen which smartphone will be the first to adopt the company’s flexible PCBs, but given that these components will be supplied to both Apple and LG Electronics, it could be that LG’s own flagship phone might employ a curved panel come 2018.