Sharp puts LCD panel plant onstream

Competition is expected to intensify among Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese panel makers as Sharp Corp.“s new liquid-crystal display plant starts to produce the world“s largest glass substrates….

Competition is expected to intensify among Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese panel makers as Sharp Corp.“s new liquid-crystal display plant starts to produce the world“s largest glass substrates. Investments in the plant are expected to total JPY 430 billion (USD 4.7 billion), including spending on possible capacity upgrades. The facility, which is located in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, and went onstream on 1 October 2009, will produce 10th-generation substrates, with each 2.88 x 3.13 metre substrate capable of yielding 18 40-inch panels. A glass manufacturing facility of Corning Inc. of the US and a colour filter plant of Dai Nippon Printing Co. started operation within the premises of the plant to supply products directly to Sharp. Sharp, the world“s only mass-producer of 10th-generation substrates, said that it intends to sell more than 50% of the panels, maintaining the other 50% for in-house use. The factory will also supply panels to Sony Corp., as per its 7% stake in a Sharp subsidiary that manages the facility. Sharp has also signed a supply contract with Toshiba Corp. and will reportedly ship to Royal Philips Electronics NV of the Netherlands. Asian rivals are therefore focussing more on the market for panels in the 30-inch category, which is the mainstay in emerging nations. South Korea“s LG Display Co. is investing about JPY 250 billion for an eighth-generation-panel production line to become operational in the second half of 2010, while Taiwan“s AU Optronics Corp. opened an 8.5-generation factory in June 2009. Panasonic Corp. will launch its Amagasaki No. 3 plant in Hyogo Prefecture in November to make substrates for 42-inch plasma panels. There is, however, concern about oversupply, due to the newest facilities coming online one after another in East Asia, with a possible oversupply of large LCD panels for televisions from the October-December quarter through the April-June quarter of 2010.