Asahi Glass Co. Ltd. (Tokyo) will invest approximately $128
million to construct an additional glass furnace at its Takasago
plant in Hyogo Prefecture, to expand production capacity of glass
substrates for thin-film-transistor liquid crystal displays (LCDs).
According to the company, the new furnace will have an annual
production capacity of 4 million square meters of glass, bringing
Asahi's total glass production capacity to 22 million square meters.
Asahi will begin construction this October, with the furnace to
begin operating in October 2005.
The new furnace will handle AN100 grade glass substrates, suiting
it to producing Generation 5 (over 1 square meter) and larger
glass substrates for large LCD monitors and flat-panel TVs.
Asahi, along with rival glass maker Corning (Ithaca, N.Y.) and
others, continue to invest millions of dollars to help the LCD
industry meet ongoing shortages of critical display components
such as glass and filters.
Whether glass supplies continue to be strained, however, could
hinge on how quickly the industry absorbs a recent onslaught of
LCD fab capacity. The sudden capacity surplus has prompted suppliers
to lower LCD panel prices in recent months and reportedly scale
back production ramp-ups.