Samsung to Invest $1 Billion in New LCD Production Line

The new mass production line for components of thin-film-transistor liquid crystal display panels is scheduled for an end-of-year start-up.

SEOUL, South Korea—Samsung Electronics last week announced that it has started construction on a new $1 billion mass production line for components of thin-film-transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels.

The new line in Chonan, South Korea, is Samsungs sixth and is scheduled for initial start-up at the end of this year. The line will be capable of producing 60,000 fifth-generation 1100mm x 1300mm glass substrates per month. Last September, Samsung Electronics started operation at its fifth production line turning out 1100mm x 1250mm substrates. With the additional capacity, Samsung will have a monthly output of 160,000 fifth-generation substrates, officials said.

Samsung officials claim the market for these substrates has grown more than 50 percent year over year, from 32 million units last year to 49 million units this year. The company said it will also focus on producing upscale, 17-inch or larger LCD panels for monitors and televisions. Heightened demand for large-screen monitors and televisions has paved the way for stepped-up production plans at Samsung facilities, the electronics firm said. Both the 1,100mm x 1,300mm and the 1,100mm x 1,250mm substrates will yield either twelve 17-inch or nine 19-inch TFT-LCDs. The larger substrate can also yield eight 22-inch or three 32-inch panels.

As the new facilities come online, Samsung plans to use its conventional lines for producing monitor components and dedicate the new line to meet the growing demand for LCD-TVs. Samsungs latest investment plan is regarded as a move to counter LG Phillips LCD, which possesses both 1000mm × 1200㎜ and 1100mm × 1250㎜ substrates and overtook Samsung in the TFT-LCD display panels market in the fourth quarter of 2002. Analysts are watching Samsungs attempts to recover its leadership in the LCD market with great interest. LG Phillips LCD is producing 120,000 fifth-generation (1,100mm x 1,250mm) substrates per month, meaning that Samsungs sixth line will allow it to outpace its competitor by 40,000 substrates per month. LG Phillips LCD, is expected to announce new plans to maintain its market leadership, officials have said.

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