LG Display kicked off LCD panel production on Monday at a new 2.5 trillion won (US$1.6 billion) plant at its Paju complex in South Korea.
The production line will be used to make displays for big-screen TVs and its start comes shortly before domestic rival Samsung Electronics is also expected to start a new LCD factory.
The LG Display plant is based on so-called "8th generation" production technology. This means it can process sheets of mother glass -- the large glass panels on which several LCD screens are made -- of 2.2 meters by 2.5 meters. Each generational process technology is best suited to a certain screen size or sizes because they fit on the mother glass sheets with least waste.
LG Display will use the new plant for 32-inch, 47-inch and 55-inch LCD panels.
Monthly capacity of the line is 20,000 sheets of mother glass, although LG Display anticipates increasing production to 83,000 sheets per month by the end of the year.
LG Display is the number two LCD TV display maker behind Samsung Electronics, according to DisplaySearch. With the new plant it hopes to gain additional sales thanks to the expanding LCD TV market, particularly in China where a government stimulus package has been designed to stoke rural consumption of consumer electronics products, it said.
DisplaySearch estimates the global market for LCD televisions will grow from 134 million [m] units this year to 181 million [m] units in 2011 but that wont' necessarily mean an easy path to greater profits.
Strong competition has been push down LCD panel prices in recent months making it difficult for companies to increase profits despite higher sales. However January panel prices managed to resist the drops seen in previous months so the industry is hopeful that they may soon begin rising again.
S-LCD, a joint venture of Samsung Electronics and Sony, is also due to start a new 8th generation LCD line this year. Announced in April last year, the US$1.8-billion plant is scheduled to be open in the April to June period this year and is being built at the venture's existing complex in Tangjeong in South Korea.