SEOUL, South KoreaDisplay makers anticipating continued shortages of thin-film-transistor LCDs are beginning to invest in equipment needed for next-generation production lines.
Growing demand for TFT-LCDs used in PCs and information and household appliances prompted market leader Samsung Electronics to begin investing in a fourth-generation production line. Seeking to keep pace, Hyundai Electronics said it has begun to invest in a new production-line technology for third-generation displays.
Both TFT LCD makers are striving to remain ahead of Japanese and Taiwanese rivals in the increasingly competitive display-manufacturing market. The investments are aimed at increasing both companies' manufacturing productivity.
Samsung Electronics recently announced plans to strengthen its fourth-generation production line at Chonan so it could churn out 20,000 displays a month. It also began ordering equipment from domestic and overseas suppliers of CVD, lithography and etching gear.
Samsung said it plans to invest as much as $500 million in its fourth-generation production line as demand takes off. The line is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2000, with production eventually jumping to 30,000 displays a month.LG Philips LCD, meanwhile, plans to build a fourth-generation line at its Kumi plant that will also produce 30,000 units a month. It began ordering equipment for the plant in July. LG's total investment could reach $840 million, the company said.
Hyundai Electronics has already invested more than $250 million to increase its production of its third-generation TFT LCDs to 20,000 per month. Hyundai recently ordered production equipment from Japanese suppliers and plans to begin testing a new manufacturing line this month. Production on that line is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2000.
As its expands and upgrades its manufacturing capacity, Samsung also finds itself locked in competition with LG Philips LCD for leadership in the large-TFT-LCD market. The two display makers recently began developing displays larger than 20 inches that will be targeted for the domestic digital TV market. Digital broadcasts are scheduled to begin here in 2002.
Both companies said they expect to make competing products on their fourth-generation lines beginning next year. Meanwhile, both said they are expanding research and development in large-size LCDs.
So far, Samsung has developed a 24-inch wide-angle TFT LCD for high-definition TV receivers. The company also plans to develop 42-inch displays for HDTV receivers. LG Philips LCD has responded with a 22-inch SXGA-class TFT LCD suitable for digital TV. Volume production of the new screen is under way, company executives said.
Korean display makers who are also dueling with Japanese competitors in emerging markets like digital TV predict that TFT LCDs will soon replace CRTs as digital TV takes off. "We are actively proceeding with development of new products aimed at the TV market since we cannot risk being inferior to Japanese manufacturers," a Korean industry source said.
Exclusive to EE Times by Chom Dan Inc. (Seoul).