US Corning is at the final stage of development for its cover glass for foldable phone, the company said on Thursday.
The launch of the glass next year will intensify competition with Germany’s Schott to supply them to Samsung.
A Corning spokesperson said the firm was at the final stage of the development of bendable glass solution, or cover glass, and they will be commercialized in 2021.
In September, the firm has said it was testing samples and that they will be launched within the next 12 months.
This year, Schott was the exclusive supplier of the substrate glass for the ultra-thin glass cover used by Samsung Electronics for its foldable smartphone. As for the foldable OLED panel itself, Samsung Display’s subsidiary Dowooninsys processes Corning’s glass. The glass is combined with Samsung Display’s OLED panel to become a foldable OLED panel.
Corning’s glass launch will also intensify competition between Samsung Electronics and Samsung Display over processing the cover glass.
Samsung Electronics has started its own supply chain as it believes Samsung Display’s panel are too expensive.
Samsung Electronics’ mobile business has also finished testing laser cutting for ultra-thin glass. The method is considered superior to Dowooninsys’ wheel cutting method. In September, local firm JT supplied Corning with 800 million won worth of ultra-thin glass cutting equipment. The equipment is used to make cover windows out of glass substrates.
Samsung Electronics will likely partially add its laser cutting method to Dowooninsys’ ultra-thin glass processing.
Dowooinsys currently can produce around 600,000 to 700,000 ultra-thin glass per month. Samsung Electronics was expected to expand this my up to a million a month. But this year’s foldable smartphone sales was around 2.7 million, only 60% of Samsung’s estimation for this year, and therefore there was no need to expand production capacity. Samsung will need to place order for the laser equipment by the first quarter of 2021 to apply more laser cutting in its ultra-thin glass production process.
Meanwhile, Samsung Display has singed a three-year exclusive purchasing deal with Schott for their glass substrates. However, Samsung Electronics believes due to this exclusive contract, there is little chance for it to reduce unit prices of foldable display panels. It is attempting to build its own supply chain by procuring glass substrates made by Corning on its own.