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Sharp Plans 10-Gen. LCD Plant

7/31/2007 11:25:00 AM Eastern

Sakai City, Japan — Sharp will build a new plant here for the combined production of 10th-generation LCD panels and thin-film solar cells.

The new plant will “incorporate relevant infrastructure and facilities, as well as attract material and production equipment manufacturers to construct plants on the same site,” Sharp said.

Sharp will spend about $3.2 billion on the facility, which it has dubbed “a manufacturing complex for the 21st Century.” It will be used to further development of the vertically integrated business model Sharp began at its Kameyama plant, the company said.

Sharp said “a number of leading material manufacturers such as glass substrate and color filter makers will be invited” to set up plants adjacent to the new manufacturing complex.

The sharing of infrastructure such as gas and electricity would improve productivity, Sharp said.

“The aim is to achieve vertical integration that transcends the barriers between companies by pushing the vertically integrated business model created at the Kameyama Plant — from LCD panels to LCD TVs — further upstream in the supply chain,” according to a Sharp statement.

Construction is slated to start in November of this year, with production operations scheduled to start by March 2010.

Sharp expects the plan to reduce distribution costs and unify operations, including production planning.

The plant will also afford horizontal deployment of thin-film technology TFT LCDs and thin-film solar cells, which are based on the same thin-film technologies, and can share materials and utilities.

The LCD panel plant will be the first to use 10th-generation glass substrates, which are the world’s largest size at 112.2 inches by 120 inches, 60 percent larger than the 8th-generation substrates used at Kameyama Plant No. 2.

The 10th-generation glass substrate will yield six LCD panels in the 60-inch class, eight panels in the 50-inch class or 15 panels in the 40-inch class, making it possible to fabricate LCD panels for large-screen TVs with at very high levels of efficiency, the company said.

The solar cell plant will produce cells capable of producing around 1,000 MW (1 million kW) per year. The factory is expected to be “the largest solar cell plant in the world,” Sharp said. Operations are slated to begin at the same time as the LCD panel plant.

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