Corning, which makes glass substrates for LCD (liquid crystal display) screens, will spend US$174 million to expand production at a Japanese plant in order to meet demand from Sharp, one of its major customers, Corning said on Monday.
The deal marks a show of support from Sharp for a new, more nature-friendly type of glass substrate developed by Corning that is free of all heavy metals, including arsenic.
Corning's Eagle XG (XG stands for "extra-green") substrate was announced earlier this year in a move by the company to keep ahead of ever more stringent environmental regulations. It will also help in recycling LCD displays made using the glass.
Sharp is one of the world's largest makers of LCD TVs. It recently inked a supply agreement with Corning which lead to its investment at the Japanese plant, in Shizuoka, Corning said.
Corning will expand production of the Eagle XG glass substrate, which is aimed at advanced "eighth generation" (8G) LCD factories and used to produce the kind of large display panels used in LCD TVs. The term 8G refers to the advanced production lines in the factories, which turn out larger mother glass than older 7G plants.
Corning's glass will supply Sharp's 8G LCD factory in Mie Prefecture, which is expected to open later this year and produce panels for LCD TVs that are 40-inches and larger.
Corning, which is based in New York, expects to begin commercial shipments from its 8G plant in the third quarter this year, with new capacity from the expansion announced Monday to come on line in late 2007, it said.
Corning launched its Eagle XG glass commercially in March. It says it's the first LCD substrate free of all heavy metals including arsenic, antimony and barium, as well as other regulated materials such as chlorine, fluorine and bromine.
The high-tech industry has been hard at work developing new materials to cope with stricter European environmental rules coming into effect July 1. They are known as the Restriction of the use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations. They ban from European Union markets new equipment that contain more than a certain level of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury and other materials.