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Korean Flat-Panel Production To Expand

South Korean flat-panel TV manufacturers LG and Samsung each announced plans to significantly expand production at flat-panel factories here, as worldwide demand continues to explode.

LG said it will expand production capacity in its plasma TV factory 50 percent in the second half of 2006 from its current 180,000 unit-per-month level. The line expansion would raise LG’s total PDP production capacity from a current 330,000 unit-per-month level to 550,000 units per month, LG said.

Samsung and Sony, which are partners in an LCD panel factory in Korea called S-LCD, said they would expand the capacity of their factory 25 percent by July 2006.

In addition to the expansion next year, LG is considering adding another plasma panel production line in 2007 that would boost capacity to 730,000 units per month.

The plasma line expansion was necessary, LG said, because global demand for plasma TVs is expected to more than triple by 2010 to 25 million units.

The moves are aimed at turning LG into the world’s largest plasma panel manufacturer. It is currently ranked No. 2, globally behind Japan’s Matsushita. Other competitors in the plasma panel space include Korean rival Samsung, and Japanese rivals Hitachi and Pioneer.

Ironically, Pioneer recently announced that it had shut down two of its six plasma production lines in October.

Meanwhile, Samsung and Sony said their expansion plan will allow the S-LCD factory to process 75,000 glass sheets per month for LCD panels, up from their current 60,000 piece level. The output will be evenly split between the two companies.

Earlier, Samsung announced plans to build another LCD panel factory of its own, right next to the Sony joint venture facility.

Sony recently launched its BRAVIA line of LCD TVs, which use panels produced at the S-LCD plant, to great success. The company claims to have attained more than 30 percent share of the U.S. LCD TV business since the launch of the BRAVIA line in the fall.