Global Foldable Smartphone Film Market: Key Research Findings 2019

Yano Research Institute (the President, Takashi Mizukoshi) has conducted a survey on the global market of high-performance films for 2019 and has found out the product trends by segment, the trends of market players, and the future outlook.

Forecast of Global Market Size of Transparent Polyimide (PI) Plastic Films for Foldable Smartphones
Forecast of Global Market Size of Transparent Polyimide (PI) Plastic Films for Foldable Smartphones

Market Overview

Conventionally, the high-performance film market has advanced by adding high values to the mix of rolled base films and processing films to meet the diversified and ever-upgraded requirements. The high-performance film market has grown and expanded by the attempts at the makers to create high-value, state-of-the-art products by synergizing the abilities of both rolled base films and processing films to complement each other, which led the makers themselves to grow and expand the business. It can be said that, for the past decade, the high-performance film market was able to survive through the use of existing base films, materials, and technologies.

However, the recent launch of new market, such as foldable smartphones and 5G substrates, has led new films developed to be low dielectric, low water absorptive, high temperature resistant, and foldable, which could not have achieved just by the existing technologies and products. ​

Among those films newly developed, the global market size of transparent polyimide (PI) plastic films for foldable smartphones is likely to attain 130,000 m2 (based on the shipment volume at the makers) by 2019 when considering throughput yield at the film  processing and embedding phases.

Noteworthy Topics

The Idea of Creating Completely New Materials Led to New Market Development

At each high-performance film makers, there have been attempts to develop the materials from scratch to generate new films to meet the needs in the new areas.

For 5G substrates (substrates for Fifth Generation wireless or mobile network), domestic and overseas high-performance film makers have overhauled the whole development processes from raw-material polymer in order to create new films using improved PI with the water absorption ratio and dielectric loss tangent to be closer to LCP. Some attempts have been made at the makers to create various samples. Through such efforts, even the materials like COP, rarely used as insulator films for FPC (flexible printed circuits), has been in the process of R&D to achieve low dielectric, low water absorptive, and high temperature resistant, aiming to be applied to 5G substrates for the near future.

For foldable smartphone screens, molecular structure and proportion has been modified and improved to attain higher transparency, while at the same time, successfully improved in the mechanical strength such as shock and deformation resistance by adding some changes to proportion of materials and to polymerization. Other than PI, some samples have been created for transparent aramid films, flex-resistant PET films, and optical highly-transparent polyurethane sheets with self-repairing function. All of them are newly generated films in the course of developing materials from scratch, not just maneuvering and processing the existing materials.

By broadening the range of development from conventional processing or adding some changes into the existing films and membranes, high-performance films makers have started having an idea of creating materials if what they currently have do not meet the user needs. Such an idea that went beyond brushing up of the existing materials has a power to create a new market. Due to the limited characteristics of films such as transparency, water absorption, and electrical characteristic, the makers started looking into new areas and applications that they had never thought of before, for they are increasingly demanded. Therefore, the new potential film market is likely to be fully developed.

Future Outlook

In the newly created markets like foldable smartphones and 5G substrates, there are higher demands for the characteristics of being low dielectric, low water absorptive, high temperature resistant, and foldable, which cannot be attained just by the conventional methods of modifying and processing existing rolled materials, but to create the brand new films. New potential demands for films are in progress in the high-performance film market.

Research Outline

1.Research Period: April to July, 2019
2.Research Object: High-performance film makers and converters
3.Research Methogology: Face-to-face interviews by our expert researchers and literature research

High Performance Films

High performance films in this research indicate base and process films used for displays & optical use, electric & electronic use, and for general industries. They include PET films, films for foldable terminals (transparent PI films, optical highly-transparent polyurethane sheets), low dielectric films (PI films, LCP films), MCC release films, protect films for polarizers, and etc.

This report is about the global shipment volume at the high-performance film makers shipping transparent PI films for foldable smartphones.

Published Report

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