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Sharp to Boost LCD Output with Larger Motherglass

Sharp-- the world's largest maker of LCD sets--is now considering raising production capacity for its large LCD panels at its Kameyama plant in western Japan to meet what it calls strong demand. Many, although not all, of Sharp's large-screen LCD monitors can attain 1080i and 720p.

According to Reuters, the company began production at its flagship Kameyama factory in January 2004 and has been steadily increasing its production schedule as consumers trade in relatively bulky CRT sets for flat-screen HD and SD units.

Sharp expects the global LCD TV market to nearly double to 15 million units within a year, according to the company. A Japanese publication, The Nihon Keizai, reported that Sharp plans to increase annual output at Kameyama to the equivalent of 4.8 million 32-inch panels by this fall. The factory primarily makes 26- to 65-inch panels and reportedly is the world's first facility to produce LCDs from sixth-generation "motherglass"--the plate substrate from which displays are cut--each of which measuring about 59-by-77-inches.

Sharp's motherglass is larger than fifth-generation plates used by other makers, although a venture reportedly is now pending between Samsung and Sony to produce seventh-generation glass of a still-undetermined size. Bigger plates of motherglass yield more panels from a single substrate, thus lowering manufacturing costs and (at least theoretically) consumer price points.

After Sharp grows capacity, another Kameyama factory that produces the substrates will process about 50,000 sixth-generation plates per month, or about 5,000 more substrates than are currently produced.