BOE to raise LCD glass capacity

China“s BOE Optoelectronics Technology (BOE OT) will decide by the end of 2006 whether to add 6G or 7G LCD glass capacity, but is unlikely to start output until 2008, a company spokesman said 29 Marc…

China“s BOE Optoelectronics Technology (BOE OT) will decide by the end of 2006 whether to add 6G or 7G LCD glass capacity, but is unlikely to start output until 2008, a company spokesman said 29 March 2006 during a tour of its 5G facility. The decision will depend on costs, about USD 2.2 billion or USD 3 billion for adding 6G or 7G capacity, respectively, and market trends, the spokesman said. The 6G substrates are well-suited to producing in volume 32W LCDs, which are winning market share, company officials said. But 7G glass is better suited to 42W and larger sizes that are seen as crucial for the future TV business. “It all will depend on trends and where the market is when we make the decision,” the spokesman said. Meantime, BOE is investing USD 80 million to expand 5G production by July 2006 to 80,000 substrates, 10 million units a year, from 60,000 (7 million), the spokesman said. BOE“s facility, one of only 2 LCD panel manufacturing plants in China (SVA-NEC in Shanghai is the other), currently produces 15-20.8″ displays in volume for LCD TVs and monitors for consumer and medical applications. It also has the capacity for 26-32W. The Beijing plant began volume production May 2005 and uses substrates from Corning and Asahi Glass. Among the speciality applications for LCDs produced at the plant are medical imaging and tablet PCs, categories where BOE claims 40% and 70% market shares for the displays, respectively. It also makes a 12.1″ LCD with 1,024×768 resolution and 450:1 contrast for use in the Apache helicopter. BOE OT, formed in 2003 through a 50% investment from BOE Group and 25% from BOE Hydis, also has 2G (370x470mm substrates), 2.5G (550x650mm) and 3G (620x720mm) lines at a second facility. The plant makes 2″, 2.2″, 10.4″, 12.1″ and 14.1″ LCD panels for products including cellphones and notebook PCs. That facility has an annual capacity of 3 million units, the spokesman said.