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Foldable devices

Kolon to supply display film for world's first foldable PC

Apr 05, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Kolon's CPI display film and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold (Courtesy of Kolon Industries)
Kolon's CPI display film and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold (Courtesy of Kolon Industries)

South Korea’s chemical and textile company Kolon Industries Inc. will supply its proprietary colorless polyimide (CPI®) film for the world’s first foldable PC manufactured by Lenovo.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold model will equip its display cover window with Kolon’s CPI® film, according to Kolon on Apr. 5.  

The CPI® film is a trademarked, high-functioning transparent polyimide film developed in-house.

Having started initial development in 2005 and succeeded in mass production in 2019, Kolon’s CPI® film has been supplied to numerous global display makers to be used on foldable smartphones.

CPI® film is in high demand for its transparency, unlike typical polyimide film, as well as flexibility and its ability to avoid cracks or scratches despite being bent.  

The material can also withstand extreme temperature conditions within the range of around 400°C and -269°C.  

These characteristics, all combined in a single material, make CPI® film special and impossible to manufacture without an advanced level of technology, according to a company spokesperson.

This deal with Lenovo marks the first case for Kolon to supply the CPI® film to a foldable PC maker.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold using Kolon's CPI display film (Courtesy of Kolon Industries)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold using Kolon's CPI display film (Courtesy of Kolon Industries)

ThinkPad X1 Fold is Lenovo’s 13.3-inch premium foldable laptop launched at the end of last year. X1 Fold is the world's first product to have applied touch pen technology on a thin-glass display cover window, and thus can be operated with a stylus pen.

MARKET PROSPECTS   

The market research firm Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) projected in a report last year that the global foldable display market will grow at an average annual rate of 131% in the next four years, reaching $105.3 billion by 2025.

Foldable display technology significantly reduces the device weight and volume when applied on mid- to large-sized electronic devices such as tablets and laptops with screens larger than 10 inches.

With the expansion of the foldable display market, the colorless polyimide film market is also expected to grow rapidly. According to Japan’s Yano Research Institute, the foldable display surface film market should more than triple from 150,000m² last year to 500,000m² in 2021.

Kolon Industries will continue to build on the successful track record of its CPI® film and expand supply to other electronic products.

Its goal is to go beyond the foldable smartphones market -- the company’s current focus -- to also win in the fast-growing mid- to large-sized display film market.  

To this end, the company will not only strengthen its longstanding partnerships with domestic companies like Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Co. but also build new relationships with global display makers.  

“We are glad that our innovation has been recognized globally with our CPI® film equipped on the world’s first foldable PC. We will continue to focus on R&D to beat the competition in the next-generation display market,” said Kolon Industries CEO Jang Hee-goo.

Write to Kyung-Min Kang at kkm1026@hankyung.com

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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