Flexible smartphone displays poised to help triple demand for high-barrier films and coatings in printed electronics over the next 5 years

The high-barrier films coatings market environment is currently complex and in a state of flux as it undergoes some significant transitions driven by evolution of the technologies involved and end-user product demands according to the latest market data from Smithers Apex.

In its new report The Future of High-Barrier Films and Coatings for Printed Electronics to 2021, Smithers Apex critically analyses a market worth $62 million and accounting for five million square metres in 2016. This will rise at a CAGR of 26% by value and 39% by volume to create a market worth $192 million and 27 million square metres in 2021.

In 2016 the core markets by value for barrier films are quantum dot enhanced displays, followed by the rigid OLED displays used in mobile smart devices. By 2021 the latter markets will have transitioned to flexible OLED displays creating an onus on new performance barrier solutions.

“A large fraction of the drivers influencing this market are driven by the evolution of the technologies involved. In many cases there is already market ‘pull’ for these developments – such as for flexible products that facilitate new design form factors. “In other cases there is manufacturing demand– such as for products that will enable roll-to-roll processing. In the area of consumer display and wearable electronics, particularly, there is a seemingly insatiable demand for innovative products.”

Alan Hodgson, report author

Over this period this materials market will be heavily concentrated in Asia – specifically the three key national markets: South Korea, China and Japan. The market in South Korea spans most of the application segments, with the single exception of photovoltaics. China is predominantly a display market, while Japan shares a focus on the small rigid OLED display market with China, but also looks set to have significant growth from both PV and OLED lighting applications.

The European environment for printed electronics in general is very different than in Asia. Europe has a wider diversity of smaller players. Germany is the key European market for high-barrier films and coatings with industrial efforts established in OLED lighting and nascent in flexible photovoltaics. The market in North America is, dominated by the US. The dominant applications sector in the US for high-barrier films and coatings is photovoltaics. This is a sector with the potential for significant growth.

However, the fact that many of the drivers are technological does mean that some of the major innovations forecast for the market for high-barrier films and coatings are dependent on the development and introduction of these innovations. OLED device production specifically is dependent on technological advancement.

The Future of High Barrier Films and Coatings for Printed Electronics to 2021 examines a market that is undergoing a series of transitions. Smithers Apex’s analysis and qualification of the market is based on extensive primary research interviews with companies and consultants at all stages of the value chain for high barrier films and coatings. This was supported by extensive secondary research based on a thorough literature analysis of market and company reports, technical papers, and conference presentations.