Flexible Touch Screens
Two big companies promise cheaper flexible touch screen starting next year.
Screen manufacturing giants have experimented for a while now with OLED flexible panels, but the production costs were huge and the technological problems delayed their launch date on the market.
Finally, the first OLED flexible screens appeared on phones such as LG G Flex and Samsung Galaxy Round or curved screen TV’s with a big screen size and matching price, but the technology still has issues. A young company called Kateeva promises to fix the reliability and production cost issues starting next year.
Although at first glance they may seem like technology tricks with an arguable usability; flexible screen can offer the manufacturers freedom to produce electronic products with new shapes and ways of interaction which will not be limited to the flat rigid surfaces of the traditional screens. No wonder that LG, Samsung and Sony have invested a lot in these technologies, but the product list for launched flexible devices is short.
OLED protection layer improvement
One of the biggest problems in the manufacturing process of an OLED flexible screen is the low reliability of the gluing technologies for the protective layer. OLED screens are sensitive to oxygen and humidity, the presence in even the smallest quantities generates problems with the usage of the screen; the soft surface of the panel can be deformed enough during the gluing stage of the protective layer to facilitate the entry of these “intruders” between the two layers.
The company Kateeva, announced developing a new technology for covering the OLED screens, which will be available somewhere at the end of this year. The company talked about this technology a year ago, but it is now ready to be implemented. Easy to integrate in the current processes of production, the YIELDJet technology is a jet pattern which allows a safe cover for the sensitive matrix layer of OLED pixels. The company states that this production method is safer, faster and can reduce production costs by half, which would allow technologies to expand in areas where high costs were an issue until now.
Capacitive panels improvement
For the production of touch screens, flexible capacitive panels are also required, and this is the second problem manufacturers have to face. If Kateeva fixed the problem of covering the OLED panel, the company Canatu from Finland developed a new technology that allows the replacement of rigid capacitive layers made out of Indium oxide and Stanium with flexible carbon nanotubes layers. This technology offers better conductivity and it is much more resistant to deformation, this being already applied in production and tested by 30 business partners.
According to rumors, it seems that Samsung could be one of the companies that had this issue which generated the need for perfectly isolated work environments and generating increased production costs.
Like we saw in the case of the Galaxy Round phone or the curved screen TV’s, the company chose to seal the flexible screen with a rigid protective layer, which eliminated the production problems but limited the usage of the technology. If technologies from Kateeva and Canatu will rise to the challenge, then it seems we will see more products with flexible screens starting next year.