Corning: LCD glass furnaces re-lit

As a hedge against a future panel oversupply, Corning has decided to relight its inactive LCD glass furnaces in Taiwan, according to Peter Bocko, chief technology officer for East Asia, who spoke at t…

As a hedge against a future panel oversupply, Corning has decided to relight its inactive LCD glass furnaces in Taiwan, according to Peter Bocko, chief technology officer for East Asia, who spoke at the Society for Information Display conference. Corning had closed 50% of its glass capacity in the second part of 2008 when panel inventories increased, but started to relight glass furnaces in Taiwan and Harrodsburg, Kentucky, US, in May 2009. Several of Corning“s top Taiwanese customers decreased their capacity by 30-40% in late 2008 and have, only recently, started to increase it again to 70-80%. Accortding to industry officials, South Korea, where Corning has an LCD glass joint venture with Samsung, registered a drop in capacity at LCD plants less severe at about 70% and has since risen back to more than 90%. “Right now it feels like the substrate area is a little bit overheated and there always is a trend down toward the end of the year after they get their inventories filled up for the Christmas holiday so we don“t want to over-commit,” Bocko said. “But substrates are in short supply now and we“re just trying to be rational in the way we light up the glass tanks.” This supply has caused some small price increases for notebook PCs, PC monitors and TVs, industry officials said, adding that only time will tell if the increases stick longer term as manufacturers restock their. “We“re seeing very strong demand and it“s across all the sectors,” said Scott Birnbaum, vice president of the LCD business at Samsung Electronics. “I“m seeing the demand from customers and they“re begging me for more product than I can supply. We“ve seen price increases and if the demand is really there then you will see them continue.” Corning has started delivering samples of 10G glass to Sharp“s Japanese plant, expected to start operations in October 2009, focussing on 50W and larger sizes. Corning“s glass plant is connected to Sharp“s panel facility, while Dai Nippon Printing and Toppan also have colour filter factories nearby, Sharp officials said. Corning will also start commercial production of 3mm thick glass substrates in 2010, down from the 5mm that makes up the majority of the market, Bocko said. Moreover, Corning has begun sample production of photovoltaic glass at its Kentucky plant using fifth-generation substrates. Corning is working with both copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) and cadmium telluride in thin- film photovoltaic technology for use with glass for temperatures of more than 600C, Bocko said.