Samsung uses a plastic film over the Galaxy Fold’s foldable display and an Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) cover over the Galaxy Z Flip’s foldable screen. However, both materials are sourced from the company’s display manufacturing arm, who, in turn, buys the base materials from other firms. The South Korean chaebol’s smartphone business is trying to be self-reliant in foldable screen technology, so it has reportedly applied for three new screen cover patents.
Samsung Electronics is trying to diversify its supply chain for foldable screens and protective covers since Japan restricted exports of polyimide film materials. The company has been looking for new suppliers, but it is also developing its in-house technologies. Its film materials lab has filed a patent for polyimide film with the title ‘Poly (Imid-amide) copolymer’ with the Japan Patent Office (JPO). The material could be used on foldable phone screens, substrates for touchscreen panels, optical discs, and various other protective solutions.
The company is working on three types of protective solutions for foldable screens: polyimide film, polyimide film + UTG, and UTG. Since foldable phones are going to be an important part of Samsung’s future in the smartphone segment, the company wants to internally develop as many technologies as possible. It has been working on flexible screens since 2009 and filing various patents related to polyimide
In the future, brands that have the most in-house technologies related to foldable screens would have the upper hand over others. Samsung is the only brand that has widely released two foldable smartphones over the past year, becoming the strongest player in the segment. The Galaxy Fold 2, which will be unveiled in August 2020, would reportedly use Ultra Thin Glass instead of a plastic film.