A bendable electronic paper display. The 21st Century is about to get such a product, with LG planning a launch next month of its electronic paper display, or EPD, product.

The EPD is a 6-inch e-ink plastic screen, 0.7 mm thick, with a resolution of 1024 x 768, and it bends up to 40 degrees at the center. The company said the screen is now being mass produced, and will be available first to manufacturers in China, followed by release to companies in Europe.

'World's First Plastic EPD'

The key initial market for the screen is e-book readers. Sang Duck Yeo, an executive in LG's Mobile/OLED division, said in a statement that this product, "the world's first plastic EPD," will help boost the popularization of the e-book market.

LG said that this product is the first in a series of new kinds of displays the South Korean company is intending to release in the future, including plastic OLED and other kinds of flexible displays.

LG said that EPD provides a reading experience akin to paper, with a plastic substrate "as slim as cell phone protection Relevant Products/Services film" and a flexible design. Compared to existing glass EPD, the plastic EPD is one-third slimmer and half the weight.

The company also said that e-book users have wanted a more durable display, since about 10 percent of users have accidentally damaged their screens by dropping them. But, by comparison, the plastic EPD is scratch-resistant if dropped from 4 feet, which is the average height of reading while standing.

When put through a break and scratch test that involved hitting the screen with a small urethane hammer, the screen suffered no scratches or breakage.

High-Temperature Manufacture

In addition to durability, LG said the lighter and thinner screen offered reduced eye fatigue, more efficient energy consumption and lower prices.

To manufacture the new screens, LG said it has developed a unique technique that uses the high TFT process, involving temperatures of more than 350 degrees. The new technique overcame the issues of manufacturing heat-susceptible plastic using such a process.

LG has been showing demonstrations of new kinds of versatile e-ink displays for several years. In early 2010, for instance, it showed a 19-inch, metal-foil electronic prototype that resembled a newspaper. In 2009, it showed a 11.5-inch sheet of flexible e-paper.

One of the biggest hopes for flexible screens, of course, is that those small devices users carry in their pockets will eventually have a flexible, larger screen that can be pulled out when needed.

Other companies are also getting into the new flexible screen market. Samsung said in February that it was mass producing flexible OLED displays, and expected products with the new screens to be released this year. Samsung has said it is developing a foldable OLED screen that has no seam and allows a device to be folded in half -- and then opened up to show a combined, larger screen.

Nokia has also shown a concept phone, the GEM, in which the entire surface of the device -- front, side, back -- was a single, touch-sensitive display.