In short: Samsung SDI developed an innovative adhesive meant to be used in foldable smartphones which surprised industry watchers with how effective and inexpensive it is, ETNews reports, citing industry sources. While Samsung was originally expected to use optically clear adhesives (OCAs) from American supplier 3M, the success of its internal R&D efforts should see the initial batch of its first foldable Android phone rely on in-house technologies. The same source reiterates Samsung's previously reported monthly production target of 100,000 foldable phones per month that the company is hoping to hit by early 2019.
Background: OCA is essentially transparent glue and is often used by automakers, though the appearance of bendable handsets is expected to popularize such solutions in the mobile industry as well. The lack of an effective adhesive solution was one of the reasons why Samsung struggled to commercialize foldable handsets in the past; any adhesive intended to connect display film layers in bendable modules must be bendable itself and preserve its properties even after countless instances of stretching and across a wide variety of environmental conditions. Samsung SDI's new solution could also be used inside tablets. though its sister company presently has no plans to commercialize such products. On the contrary, Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh revealed the firm was originally concerned its first foldable phone would be too similar to a tablet when folded out and went to great lengths to differentiate the two, albeit without elaborating on the matter.
The impact: With Samsung becoming increasingly more confident that foldable smartphones will eventually become the go-to form factor for handsets, the company is committing massive resources toward ensuring it's capable of producing them in-house. The firm already pioneered bendable display panels and flexible batteries, with an industry-first adhesive being yet another testament to its technological prowess that's the backbone of its long-term sustainability efforts. The solution also has the potential to generate revenue for Samsung Group through licensing, much like the flexible OLED modules for smartphones that its display division already agreed to supply to Chinese companies, as industry sources claimed earlier this summer.