November 30, 2015 12:30 ET

IDTechEx Research: Flexible Barrier Technologies an $850m Market by 2026

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - November 30, 2015) - Interest in flexible displays is starting to proliferate as electronics giants are deploying devices that are not encapsulated in glass any more. According to the new IDTechEx Research report "Barrier Layers for Flexible Electronics 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts" (, the market for flexible encapsulation is set to rise to $850 million, primarily driven by quantum dot (QD) LCDs and flexible OLED displays.

Flexible encapsulation is aiming to replace rigid glass encapsulation for OLED displays in smart phones and tablets for instance, enabling new form factors: bendable, foldable, even rollable devices that are also more robust and can be more impact resistant. In addition, similar films can be used in QD-LCDs, a new type of LED back-lit LCD display that's utilizing quantum dot technology to improve color gamut and lower power consumption.

The three most popular ways of encapsulating flexible electronics can be broadly categorized as follows:

1. In-line deposition: Also known as direct or thin film encapsulation, this is where a thin film barrier is applied directly onto a device during fabrication, in a vacuum and/or inert atmosphere. Samsung's plastic rigid displays are constructed using this method.

2. Barrier film encapsulation: The barrier film is manufactured on a polymer substrate, separately from the device to be encapsulated, and is subsequently laminated onto the device using a pressure sensitive adhesive. Several companies (including 3M and Toppan) manufacture barrier films with adhesives made available by companies such as Sempa, 3M, delo, and others. Barrier film is also utilized in the manufacture of quantum dot enhancement films, found in new generations of QD-LCD displays.

3. Hybrid encapsulation: Combining the two previous methods, hybrid encapsulation is the in-line deposition of a barrier construct with a subsequent lamination of a barrier film using a pressure sensitive adhesive. LG utilized this hybrid approach when encapsulating its G-Flex plastic rigid display.

The report "Barrier Layers for Flexible Electronics 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts" covers these and also other encapsulation methods including the use of dessicants, flexible glass and atomic layer deposition (ALD). Each option is discussed and compared in detail, there are profiles of many companies that follow each approach, along with activities of major consumer electronics companies and their preferred methods of encapsulation for their first non-glass based displays.

In 2026 flexible barrier manufacturing will become a market of around $850 million. The biggest opportunities will be in QD LCDs and flexible OLEDs, followed by flexible photovoltaics, highlighting opportunities for both barrier film manufacturers as well as suppliers of in-line deposition equipment.

For more information on polymer based barrier technology developers but also flexible glass and development work, end-user trends, markets for flexible displays and photovoltaics and granular forecasts for the next decade, the IDTechEx report on the topic "Barrier Layers for Flexible Electronics 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts" provides an excellent overview of the state of the art in flexible encapsulation.

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Contact Information

  • Contact information:
    Alison Lewis
    Marketing Manager, Reports
    UK: +44 (0)1223 812300
    USA: +1 617 577 7890