The Company will construct a new glass furnace in Taiwan and a polishing line at its Kansai Factory for large-sized TFT-LCD glass substrates.
Total funds to be invested into the project are estimated at 18 billion yen. The construction will commence in July/August 2003, with commercial production scheduled to start at the new furnace in September 2004 and at the new polishing line in January 2004.
After the completion of the new furnace, the total production capacity of the Company will be 14 million square meters par annum, when five furnaces, including three at the Keihin Factory and one under construction at the Kansai Factory, will be operating at full capacity.
Demand for TFT-LCD is projected to increase at a rate of more than 25% per annum. In addition to the demand for PC monitors, demand for TVs and large screen TVs is expected to grow significantly.
There are fears of possible shortage of TFT-LCD glass substrates, especially in larger glass substrates, since TFT panel manufacturers have started introducing fifth-generation size glass substrates with a surface of one square meter or larger.
Asahi Glass incorporates the float process in manufacturing TFT-LCD glass substrates, which is suited for the mass production of larger glass substrates. Its TFT-LCD glass substrates are less prone to warpage and do not shrink much during the heat treatment in the manufacturing process. Furthermore, this process uses no arsenic or antimony which is highly valued by TFT-LCD panel manufacturers as "environmentally-friendly glass."