TOKYO IPS Alpha Technology, the LCD manufacturing joint venture founded by Hitachi, Matsushita Electric and Toshiba Corp., will more than triple production capacity to 5 million 32-inch panels annually by the first quarter of 2008.
Timed to coincide with expansion, the venture also plans to build a new fab in the Czech Republic to assemble LCD modules. IPS Alpha is currently negotiating with the Czech government to win approval for the plan.
IPS Alpha said it plans to invest ¥80 billion (about $717 million), ¥12 billion ($108 million) of which will be spent on the construction of the Czech plant.
The joint venture will produce LCD panels incorporating an in-plane switching (lateral electric field) mode, which was developed by Hitachi to provide a wider viewing angle. The company claims the technology improves transmissivity by about 50 percent. The technology will be marketed for panels dubbed IPS-Pro for TV applications.
IPS Alpha was founded in January 2005. Hitachi holds 50 percent of its equity, Matsushita holds 30 percent and Toshiba 15 percent. IPS Alpha focuses on mid-sized IPS LCDs ranging from 23 to 37 inches. For larger TVs, the partners will use plasma and surface-conduction electron-emitter display technologies.
Production began earlier this month with an initial capacity of 1.6 million units per year using 6th generation substrates (1,500 by 1,800 mm). IPS Alpha initially planned to boost production to 2.5 million units a year, but the expansion plan has been moved back to January 2007.