Ceramic Industry

SPECIAL REPORT/GLASS MANUFACTURING: Glass News

June 1, 2008

Asahi Glass to Restructure North American Flat Glass Business, Reduce Production by 40%

Asahi Glass Co., Ltd. recently announced that it will stop operations on three float glass production lines and two architectural coating lines from April to December this year, and sell its glass fabrication business in order to respond to rapid changes in the business environment. Asahi Glass will concentrate its management resources on glass for solar cells, sales of which are expected to grow rapidly, as well as raw glass for automotive use and value-added building products.

In the flat glass business in North America, Asahi Glass has been working on a profitability improvement project since 2006 that includes an overhaul of management and the shutdown of the Cinnaminson Plant of subsidiary AGC Flat Glass North America, Inc. (AFNA). However, the continued decline in the housing market in North America has created a serious oversupply situation. As a result of these and other circumstances, Asahi Glass has decided to stop operations of float glass at the Victorville Plant (California), the St. Augustine Plant (Quebec, Canada) and Line No. 1 at the Greenland Plant (Tennessee) of AFNA. By these measures, Asahi Glass will decrease its glass production capacity in North America by about 40%.

As for architectural sputter coating lines, which have an excessive output capacity compared with the size of the market, Asahi Glass has decided to stop operations at the Victorville Plant and Hampton Plant (Iowa) of AFNA and concentrate production of its full commercial and residential product range at the Abingdon Plant. In addition, the company has decided to sell the glass fabrication business to focus on core glass production and coating technologies. For additional information, call (81) 33218-5509, e-mail info-pr@agc.co.jp or visit www.agc.co.jp.

Corning Holds Grand Opening for LCD Glass Plant in China

Corning Inc. recently hosted a grand opening ceremony for the company’s new liquid crystal display (LCD) glass substrate manufacturing facility in the People’s Republic of China. The plant, located in the Beijing Economic Technological Development Area, is the company’s first thin film transistor-LCD (TFT-LCD) glass production facility on the China mainland. The opening continues Corning’s trend of entering an LCD-producing region as local market demand expands. Corning currently has LCD glass facilities in the U.S., Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

“Today marks the latest chapter in Corning’s history of investment in China, where our businesses have responded to the varied needs of the region’s many high-technology industries,” said Wendell P. Weeks, chairman and chief executive officer.

John P. Bayne, president, Corning Display Technologies China, hosted the grand opening celebration, together with Weeks and James P. Clappin, president, Corning Display Technologies. “As an industry leader in TFT-LCD glass and other advanced display products, Corning is committed to providing customers with reliable supply across our global network,” said Bayne. “This facility demonstrates our commitment to China and the growing TFT industry. We have added and will continue to add many people to our organization, including highly skilled technicians and engineers, as we continue to ramp operations over the coming months.” Visit www.corning.com for more information.

PPG Announces Fiber Glass Price Increases

PPG Industries’ fiber glass business recently announced that it would raise prices effective May 1, or as permissible by contract, for products in the Americas. “Rising costs for energy, transportation, raw materials and precious metals create an economic hardship for our business and our industry that is affecting our ability to reinvest for the future,” said Greg Benckart, PPG general manager, fiber glass. “PPG has invested significant capital to support the industry, with furnace rebuilds in our wholly owned assets as well as new capacity in Asia. While we want to continue to invest in technology and capacity, we find ourselves in a position where current economics will not justify these necessary investments.”

PPG’s price increases affect all reinforcements for thermoset and thermoplastic resins, as well as yarn products. Sales representatives are communicating price increase details to their customers in these markets. For more information, visit www.ppg.com.

NSG Makes Management Changes

The board of NSG Group recently announced several changes in the senior management of its board. Yozo Izuhara has been appointed chairman of the board, Katsuji Fujimoto was named chairman of the NSG Group and Tomoaki Abe has been appointed vice chairman. In addition, Stuart Chambers was appointed president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the NSG Group, with responsibility for the profitable operation of all businesses within the Group. He will chair an executive committee that will oversee the day-to-day management of the NSG Group’s businesses. Masakuni Nitta has retired from the board and has been named senior adviser.

In parallel, a new board structure will be established. The former External Auditors model will be replaced by three board committees (Audit, Nomination and Remuneration) and four external directors.

According to NSG, the appointment of Stuart Chambers as president and CEO continues the Group’s process of evolving into an international corporation. Visit www.nsggroup.net for additional details.

SIDEBAR: Picture Perfect

SCHOTT recently introduced its new AF 32TM glass to the photonics market. AF 32 is designed for leading-edge opto-electronics applications, and, according to the company, its performance surpasses that of AF 45TM. “We think AF 32 is the ideal packaging material for image sensor packaging, WLO and MEMS applications,” said Oliver Jackl, general manager of sales. “The camera phone and CMOS image sensor markets are aggressively seeking ways to decrease the size of their modules, and our AF 32 glass will help the industry achieve this goal.”

The cell phone camera market is growing at a rapid rate; the Gartner Group market research firm predicts that over 1 billion camera-equipped cell phones will be sold worldwide in 2010, nearly double the 569 million predicted to sell this year. To support this growth, the industry is working to both miniaturize the camera modules that lie at the heart of most cell phone cameras and to reduce these modules’ price points.

AF 32 is chemically more stable and possesses a higher temperature resistance than AF 45. In addition, AF 32 has a coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) that matches silicon. This quality helps prevent warp during the manufacture of complex assemblies and during reflow, when a WLCSP imager is attached to a printed circuit board. These properties enable manufacturers to use thinner wafer cover glasses and replace the back glasses on their packages with plastic. In addition, AF 32 glass’ CTE makes it more suitable for use in 12-in. wafer production.

Sheets of AF 32 glass are manufactured in a down-draw process using a small tank and a narrow ribbon, which reduces turnaround time when changing from one thickness to another. AF 32 glass is available in many thicknesses ranging from 0.1 to 1.1 mm. This wide thickness range provides manufacturers of WLO and MEMS products with more design freedom, since they can secure the glass thickness they need without having to polish the glass or requalify a glass type.

A statistic process control system enforces a tight thickness tolerance in the AF 32 glass, so a total thickness variation (TTV) of ± 5 µm can be achieved right from the tank. The glass’ fire-polished surface possesses a roughness value below 1 nm RMS, ensuring that costly fine mechanical polishing is not required.

AF 32 is an aluminoborosilicate glass that is alkali-free in synthesis. This property helps ensure that a camera module’s delicate CMOS image sensors are not degraded when packaged using the WLCSP process. Easy to cut and dice, the AF 32 material helps manufacturers achieve a high yield during the final dicing process for the optical assembly. Visit www.us.schott.com for additional information.