Electronic Design

The Business Of LCDs

According to an August 2004 study from iSuppli Corp., large-sized LCD panel unit shipments increased by 17% between the first and second quarter of this year. Such growth is projected to slow down, at least for the rest of this year, because new manufacturing facilities (as many as eight worldwide) are being readied to go into full production, making supply outstrip demand.

In fact, the thin-film-transistor (TFT) LCD industry is in the midst of the largest spate of investment in production facilities in its history. Hitachi, Matsushita, and Toshiba are jointly investing $1 billion to build a new production plant for large-screen LCD panels. In addition, Sharp and Samsung lead the way in the number of LCD fabrication facilities being planned.

Color LCD flat panels continue to penetrate consumer TV screens. But they still constitute only 6% of all consumer TV sales due to relatively high prices, compared to the venerable CRT, and they continue to drop (see the table). "The CRT has been around for about 100 years, while TFT LCD technology has only been around for about seven years," says Dale Maunu, director of Business Development and Procurement for Optrex America Inc. "In that respect, TFT LCDs still have a long way to go for full maturity."

Most widescreen TVs that use color LCDs have diagonal sizes of 40 to 49 in. Many others use LCD color screens of 24 to 49 in. in diagonal.

TAGS: Toshiba
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