Sharp has begun production of LCD (liquid crystal display) panels on a new manufacturing line in Japan that it says is the most advanced commercial line in the world.
The production line is a so-called sixth-generation line and can handle mother glass -- the initial glass sheet onto which the LCDs are built -- as large as 1.5 meters by 1.8 meters, said Miyuki Nakayama, a spokeswoman for Sharp in Tokyo.
Until Sharp began production at the factory, in Kameyama, Japan, the most advanced LCD production facilities involved in mass production of panels were fifth-generation lines that can accept glass up to 1.1 meters by 1.3 meters.
Increasing the size of the mother glass means more panels can be made per sheet of glass and that lowers costs, resulting in cheaper LCD panels.
The new production line has a maximum capacity of 15,000 sheets of mother glass per month. A single sheet can be used to produce eight 26-inch widescreen LCD panels or a smaller number of larger panels. In total the line can produce up to 100,000 LCD televisions of various screen sizes per month, said Nakayama.
A second production line planned for the Kameyama factory is scheduled to begin manufacturing panels in August this year, said Sharp. That line will bring total maximum production to 27,000 sheets of mother glass per month.
In addition to Sharp's plans, other LCD manufacturers are also planning to bring new production lines on stream in 2004 to help satisfy a growing appetite for LCD-based televisions and computer monitors.
South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. recently began construction on a seventh-generation production line, having decided to skip the sixth generation, and says that mass production is due in 2005. Seventh-generation lines can accept mother glass of 1.9 meters by 2.2 meters.