SK Innovation to advance the schedule for FCW mass production

2019-03-01 08:00 2022
  • SK Innovation will provide 'total solution' after developing differentiated hard coating and functional coating for clear PI films.
  • Commissioning of demo plant will be completed by the end of March, this year, and commercial operation will begin in the second half of 2019.
  • FCW was unveiled for the first time at CES 2019. At MWC 2019, new foldable phones were announced amid heated competition.

SEOUL, South Korea, March 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- SK Innovation plans to bring forward the mass production of flexible cover window (FCW), a key material for flexible displays, to the second half of 2019. FCW is SK Innovation's flexible plate brand for flexible displays. SK Innovation will begin mass production once commissioning of a demo plant is completed by the end of March.

FCW is a material that adds hard-coating and functional-coating to the existing clear polyimide (PI) film to prevent contamination. FCW is a differentiated technology as it has bending and anti-scratch features.

To enter into the market for flexible displays, SK Innovation began to develop FCW based on the PI film technology it had accumulated since 2006. Flexible displays are used in smartphones, laptops and tablets globally. SK Innovation succeeded in developing products for flexible displays and commercial production is around the corner.

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019, many smartphone manufacturers announced plans for mass production of foldable phones, attracting much attention to materials for flexible displays as relevant market is expected to grow. According to Strategy Analytics, a research and consulting firm in the U.S., the global foldable smartphone sales will increase from 32 million units in 2019 to 50.1 million units by 2022, recording CAGR of 250%.

It is expected that the clear PI film market will grow as well. Currently, a few companies from Korea and Japan including SK Innovation are competing with the aim for mass production.

"SK Innovation has advantages because we can provide total solution from clear PI film manufacturing to hard- and functional-coating," a spokesperson from SK Innovation said. "We have also obtained competitive edge based on material development capabilities such as Lithium-ion battery separator (LiBS) where SK Innovation ranks second in global market share."

SK Innovation will finish construction of the demo plant during March and join other manufacturers in developing foldable displays by demonstrating FCW products. The company invested KRW 40 billion in the second quarter of 2018 to build FCW plant for mass production at the LiBS plant located in Jeungpyeong, North Chungcheong Province with an aim to begin commercial operation in the second half of 2019. In addition, SK Innovation is reviewing a plan to build additional plant, considering the fast growing market.

SK Innovation announced FCW products for the first time at Consumer Electronics Show 2019, the world's largest consumer technology show, gaining attention from participating companies and visitors. In the future, the company will showcase the products at a variety of exhibitions.

On the 26th, Rho Jea-sok, CEO of SK Innovation's Material Business paid a visit to MWC. After looking around the halls where foldable phones were displayed, he said, "We will respond to the expanding foldable phone market proactively with our differentiated competitiveness in FCW including hard coating technology."

SK Innovation has decided to spin off its Material Business to enhance its expertise and obtain global competitiveness. The spin-off will be determined at the annual general meeting to be held in March with the timeline of splitting the unit into a subsidiary by April 1st.

Source: SK Innovation