According to the company, the new furnace will have an annual production capacity of 4 million square meters of glass, bringing Asahi's total glass production capacity to 22 million square meters. Asahi will begin construction this October, with the furnace to begin operating in October 2005.
The new furnace will handle AN100 grade glass substrates, suiting it to producing Generation 5 (over 1 square meter) and larger glass substrates for large LCD monitors and flat-panel TVs.
Asahi, along with rival glass maker Corning (Ithaca, N.Y.) and others, continue to invest millions of dollars to help the LCD industry meet ongoing shortages of critical display components such as glass and filters.
Whether glass supplies continue to be strained, however, could hinge on how quickly the industry absorbs a recent onslaught of LCD fab capacity. The sudden capacity surplus has prompted suppliers to lower LCD panel prices in recent months and reportedly scale back production ramp-ups.