Display glass processing firm Kglass will expand into the foldable ultra-thin glass (UTG) market in China, TheElec has learned.
The company will enter the Chinese market via South Korean software firm Softcen.
UTG is used as cover windows in foldable phones. More Chinese smartphone companies are beginning to apply the material for their phones.
Kglass will handle the back-end processing of the UTG, where the mother glass is cut into the size of the product.
The process require precising cutting, or the cut glass will have durability issues.
Samsung Display currently uses Dowooninsys for the process.
Softcen signed a 20.9 billion deal in June with Jiangsu Suchuan Technology to supply it with UTG cover window manufacturing system.
Kglass will be supplying this system.
Softcen also spent 50 million yuan for a 5.88% stake in Jiangsu in June.
In May, the software company also invest 5 billion won in Kglass, securing 40% ownership.
Jiangsu also began construction of a flexible foldable panel factory in June at its namesake province. It is planning to spend 6 billion yuan. According to Softcen, the Chinese firm was chosen by the province to lead a local project to develop ultra-thin foldable cover window.
Kglass’ technology was deemed stable by LG Display and NEG, people familiar with the matter said.
But as LG Display is yet to manufacture foldable panels with UTG, Kglass has chosen to expand in China first, they said.
Chinese phone makers have just started their shift from polyimide films to UTG when it comes to the cover window material for their foldable phones, which means there will be a window of opportunity for Kglass to expand there.
Samsung is the only company so far that has applied UTG in its foldable phones __ the Galaxy Z series.
Its new Galaxy Fold 3 and Galaxy Flip 3 launching this month, and new foldable phones made by Chinese companies will all use UTG foldable panels made by Samsung Display.
Meanwhile, Softcen’s majority shareholder is a Hong Kong-based private equity firm.
Hong Kong Chun Shun International Trading Limited became the largest shareholder of Softcen in December, 2019. Last year, Softcen formed two subsidiaries in China. One of these subsidiaries will handle the development of flexible OLED new material and process system development.
Softcen was founded in 1988 and listed on KOSDAQ in 1997. ITcen became its largest shareholder in 2012. The company sold its stake to the Hong Kong private equity firm.
Last year, Softcen recorded 78.9 billion won in sales and 4 billion won in operating income.