Samsung Elec chooses Sumitomo over SKC to receive PI film for foldable phone

South Korean chemical firms lost to a Japanese rival in a race to win an order from Samsung Electronics Co. to supply colorless polyimide (PI) film, a core material for a foldable smartphone that the tech giant is aiming to release as early as the end of this year.

According to a senior official from a partnering company of Samsung Electronics on Monday, the world’s top smartphone maker is expected to receive transparent PI films from Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. PI film, which can replace glass for display substrates, is a core material that can enable the production of a flexible screen, which is a must for a foldable phone. It is bendable despite having a hard surface like glass.

 

The country’s two conglomerates SK and Kolon established a joint venture named SKC Kolon PI Inc. in 2008 to develop the transparent PI films but the two firms failed to share technology to mass produce the films. SKC Co., a mid-sized chemical firm of SK Group, has succeeded in developing the films after investing 80 billion won ($71.2 million) to secure film coating and processing technology, but it has to wait until October next year to mass produce the films after it broke ground for a transparent PI films manufacturing facility last month. Kolon has not obtained the coating technology after SKC has not shared its core technology with the partner yet, according to sources.

Upon the news that the Korean companies gave in to the Japanese rivals in the transparent PI film race, each Korean company’s shares fell. On Tuesday, Kolon Industries plunged 10.87 percent to close at 58,200 won and SKC Kolon PI fell 0.99 percent to finish at 49,800 won.

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Post time: Sep-05-2018