LG’s Foldable Plastic Screen Promises to Be As Hard As Glass

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A photo of a foldable piece of plastic against the LG Chem logo

Imagine a screen as bendable as a rubber band.
Image: LG Chem

LG is done making smartphones, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t still attempting to one-up its biggest rival. Samsung beat the competition to the punch with foldable phones, but its bendable screens came with a preinstalled layer of protective film to keep the display from falling apart. LG’s solution to this promises to be more sophisticated, with improved plastic that the company is calling “Real Folding Window.”

There aren’t many specifics on the new material used. LG Chem, which published the press release, mentions that it uses a Polyester (PET) film material to coat each glass side. According to a spokesperson for LG Chem, the coating is enough reinforcement to “maximize flexibility.” LG adds that it’s thinner “compared to existing tempered glass,” and while it has the same hardness, it’s not as prone to “cracking on the screen.”

The Real Folding Window is coated in “a few dozen micrometers” of this new material to increase its resistance to heat. The company is also working on developing a version of the Real Folding Window without additional reinforcement.

The Real Folding Window has an advantage over its competition: It can bend both outward and inward. It’s unclear if the display can bend both ways on the same device or if this is mere mention to show LG’s plan for manufacturing scalability. The company says the coated glass will work with tablets, laptops, and bendable phones.

LG plans to start production on the foldable display technology next year, with plans to “begin full-scale sales” in 2023. The company hopes to start with mobile phones and plans to expand to laptops and tablets eventually.

Of course, LG is not without competition from Samsung in this realm. Samsung showed off its upcoming foldable display tech earlier this year at the SID’s annual Display Week. Samsung is also tipped to be working with Google on a folding Pixel smartphone and with Corning on a more durable glass. It’ll be interesting to see which manufacturers LG partners with when its bendable Real Folding Window hits the market.

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