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Despite recession, LCD flat-panel demand grows

Sharp to build thousands more TVs each month

The economy might still be in a fragile condition but it seems consumers can't get enough of flat-panel televisions.

Sharp plans to increase production of LCD panels by tens of thousands of screens per month after seeing increased demand from TV makers, it said Thursday.

Sharp will raise production at its Kameyama No. 2 factory in western Japan from 90,000 glass substrates per month to 100,000 substrates after August. Each substrate measures 2.16 metres by 2.46 metres and can be used to up to eight 40-inch class or six 50-inch class LCD panels. While the number of substrates will rise by 10,000 per month, the number of additional screens produced will be several times that.

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The company is one of the world's largest makers of LCD panels. It began full-scale manufacturing at the Kameyama plant in April this year and at the time said it would bring forward the start of production at its new factory in Sakai, also in western Japan, to October. Demand has continued to rise since then leading Sharp to expand the Kameyama production.

In the first half of the year demand for LCD TVs was better than expected, according to market-watcher DisplaySearch. The company raised its full-year shipment forecast from 120 million to 127 million on the back of strong demand in developed nations and a faster than expected transition to LCD TVs in emerging countries like China. Demand from China is expected to be almost 24 million this year, DisplaySearch said.

Sharp's new ¥380 billion ($4.1 billion) Sakai plant is more advanced than the Kameyama factory and will handle even larger sheets of glass. The factory will work on substrates of 2.88 metres by 3.13 metres on which large LCD panels can be made even more efficiently.


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