SANTA CLARA, CALIF, January 18, 2011As the transition to flat panel TV nears completion, TFT LCD TV panel demand is slowing, from 41% Y/Y in 2010 to 8.3% in 2011. According to the DisplaySearch Quarterly LCD Glass Substrate Report, total TFT LCD panel area demand is expected to increase 10.4% in 2011, resulting in 11% TFT LCD glass area demand growth, accounting for time shifts and production yields.

Coming out of a tight supply situation in 2009, TFT LCD glass substrate manufacturers have significantly increased capacity in 2010, with area growth estimated to be 32% Y/Y. Capacity is expected to continue increasing, with DisplaySearch forecasting 13% Y/Y growth in 2011. With panel makers cutting back on utilization, DisplaySearch forecasts an oversupply situation in Q111, with a glut of 12.8%.

Because each tank investment is enormously expensive, the recent increase in capacity has been largely accomplished through increases in existing tank capacity. This is accomplished through improvements in production yields and increasing the speed of production processes. For fusion glass makers, a key part of the improved productivity has been a shift to thinner glass substratesmost importantly from 0.7 to 0.5 mm in Gen 6 and larger fabs. From Q209 to Q211, the quarterly area capacity of TFT LCD glass production is expected to increase by 42%. The growth will be accomplished with a 15% increase in the number of tanks.

Out of the forecasted 13% growth in 2011 capacity, new tank investments will account for 7% of the growth, while existing tank capacity increases will account for the remaining 6%, noted Tadashi Uno, Director of Materials and Component Research for DisplaySearch. As a result, glass makers are going to supply an 11% demand increase with 7% new tank investments. The increase in capacity of existing tanks should lead to stronger financial results.

Table 1:  Quarterly Glass Substrate Demand Forecast by Application 


Source: DisplaySearch Quarterly LCD Glass Substrate Report

Since the market began to recover in Q209, there has also been a divergence in capacity expansion strategies among the top three glass makers: Corning (including its wholly-owned production and Samsung Corning Precision production in Korea), Asahi Glass, and NEG. With Corning giving up share in TFT LCD glass by shifting existing capacity to production of its Gorilla glass, Samsung Corning Precision and Asahi have maintained their market share, while NEG continues to gain share.

Since Q209, Corning has shifted all of its glass melting tanks in the US, as well as a few in Taiwan, to the production of Gorilla glass. In addition, the company has added new tanks for Gorilla glass production in Japan, and Samsung Corning Precision is shifting some tanks in Korea. Corning has added capacity for TFT LCD glass as well, but the shift of existing capacity means that, from Q209 to Q211, Corning (including Samsung Corning Precision), will grow its TFT LCD glass capacity area by 29%, compared to 54% for Asahi and 71% for NEG.

The DisplaySearch Quarterly LCD Glass Substrate Report is ideal for panel makers, glass makers, and product planners interested in details of glass substrate technology and market dynamics. This report covers basic introductions, technical evolutions, market forecasts, capacity profiles, supply/demand modeling, and value chain relationships, as well as cost and price for TFT LCD glass substrates. Please contact Charles Camaroto at 1.888.436.7673 or 1.516.625.2452, e-mail, or contact your regional DisplaySearch office in China, Japan, Korea or Taiwan for more information.