Asahi Glass Co., Ltd. recently announced that it will increase production capacity of glass substrates for thin film transistor-liquid crystal displays (TFT-LCD). Spending about 30 billion yen (~ $255 million), Asahi will establish a production furnace with a 5 million square meter per year capacity and a polishing line for the substrates at its Takasago Plant. The production furnace is expected to start mass production in Autumn 2008, and the polishing line is forecasted to start up in 2009.
Demand for TFT liquid crystal panels is strong for television sets and personal computers, and is expected to rise at an annual rate of 20% on a unit basis. In addition, many TFT liquid crystal panel manufacturers currently produce panels by using large, sixth-generation or larger mother glass. Production of panels with tenth-generation glass substrates, the world’s largest, is also scheduled. Given this trend, the supply-demand situation of glass substrates is expected to tighten, centering on large sizes, and glass manufacturers will be forced to build structures for the stable supply of large glass substrates.
Asahi Glass has previously boosted production capacity of glass substrates in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in response to a rise in demand, and has promoted technology development for large glass substrates. The establishment of the new production furnace and polishing line at the Takasago plant will enable the handling of tenth-generation glass substrates in response to projected stronger demand and larger mother glass sizes.
As the company’s largest domestic production line of TFT glass, the Takasago plant currently operates two production furnaces for TFT glass substrates and a polishing line that can handle up to eighth-generation glass substrates. The plant’s existing human resources and infrastructure can therefore be used effectively for this project, and space for the project can be secured within the plant site without the need to acquire or lease additional land.
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