Glass is an amorphous (non-crystalline) solid material which exhibits a glass transition. Glass can also take reversible transition in amorphous materials from a hard and relatively brittle material state to a molten or plastic state. Glasses are basically brittle in state and are optically transparent in nature. Most commonly known glass type is soda-lime glass (made up of 75% silicon dioxide (SiO2), sodium oxide (Na2O), lime (CaO) and various minor additives materials). Flexible glass is an ultra-thin glass having the properties of a rigid glass material. Properties such as strength, temperature stability and durability in a flexible nature are associated with flexible glasses. Additionally, flexible glass can also attain the property of plastics such as scratch resistance and rigidity. Flexible glass is majorly used to increase the strength and flexibility of the finished product, in turn increases the life of the products. Additionally, flexible glass also helps the electronic gadgets to reduce their weight, increases its attractiveness, making it handy and better or high quality products.
Owing to the unique flexibility property of the glass, the flexible glass market can by bifurcated according to the end-user markets such as display market, OLED (organic light-emitting diode) market and Other gadgets markets (which are rollable, flexible and wearable in nature). Display market is expected to dominate the demand of flexible glass in the forecasted period owing to development of next generation gadgets. Other applications of the flexible glass are in the manufacturing of displays of cellphones and tablets.
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North America has the largest market for flexible glass, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific. The U.S. and China are the largest consumers of flexible glass and are expected to dominate the market in coming years. North America is expected to maintain its dominance in the forecasted period; Europe is expected to shoe marginal growth. However, Asia Pacific region is expected to witness highest growth in the forecasted period owing to the increasing domestic demand of cellphones and tablets in the emerging markets of India and china.
Increasing demand of consumer electronics paired with advancement in the display technology is expected to increase demand for products such as smartphones, laptops, tablets and TVs. This is expected to increase the demand for flexible glass materials, driving the overall flexible glass market. Additionally, increasing demand for slim and scratch-resistant displays in the electronics products is expected to drive the flexible glass market to some extent. Also, with increasing disposable income consumers are demanding better quality electronic products such as smartphones, smartwatches, cellphones and other products; this is further increasing the demand for flexible glass, especially in the developing markets such as India, China and Brazil. According to the National Bureau of Statistics China, annual per capita disposable income of urban households in China increased from USD 2,271.0 in 2008 to USD 3408.5 in 2012. The overall annual disposable income in India medium household income increased from USD 1,366.2 billion in 2010 to USD 1,587.6 billion in 2013.
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Some of the major companies operating in the global flexible glass market are Corning Inc., Nippon Electric Glass Co. Ltd., Asahi Glass Co. Ltd., Schott AG, Abrisa Technologies, Tokyo Electron, Dupont Display, Universal Display Corporation, Materion Corporation, Kent Displays, Inc., LG Display Co. Ltd., Sony Corporation and LiSEC Group.