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18 Jan 2006

Sharp invests in LCDs as Matsushita and Toray team up to build world's largest PDP plant.

Matsushita Electric Industrial, best known for its Panasonic brand, and Japanese chemicals giant Toray are to build the world's largest plasma display panel (PDP) plant at a cost of $1.53 billion. The new facility will have a production capacity of 6 million panels per year and will become fully operational by March 2009 with a total PDP output of 11.1 million panels.

"Panasonic anticipates [that] the global PDP market will expand to 25 million panels by 2010," said Ken Morita, president of Matsushita PDP. "We aim to enhance our global share to over 40 percent to be the world's top manufacturer of PDPs."

Starting in Japan, the PDP sector has evolved into a huge global market driven by high-definition broadcasting. In southeast Asia, PDP demand is expected to develop as digital broadcast infrastructure is built and in China, the host of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, growth is now poised to outpace Japan.

At the same time, Panasonic's display rival Sharp is backing competing LCD technology and plans to invest $1.7 billion in its core LCD business starting in March this year. According to the firm's president Katsuhiko Machida, Sharp is aiming to increase annual production of its LCD TV units by 50% to six million units. The company believes that its cutting-edge production technology, such as ink jet printing of color filters, can make large-size LCDs cost competitive with PDPs.

James Tyrrell is news editor on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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