Rising demand for high-resolution displays in consumer electronics and laptops and the localization of panel production are speeding up the shift to TFT technology in China's LCD module industry. Output of the dominant TN and STN variants has declined steadily in recent years, while that of TFT has climbed by more than 20 percent annually. The latter configuration is expected to drive this line, with its manufacturing allocation forecast to top 70 percent in 2010-11.
LCD modules are now widely used in consumer and automotive electronics, and digital household appliances. Mobile phones and LCD TVs will drive the uptrend in the TFT-LCD line. The country's output of LCD modules for handsets hit 956.5 million units in 2007, and was estimated to post two-digit growth until end-2009. Meanwhile, outbound shipments of LCD TVs will rise to 30.7 million units by 2013 from 13 million in 2008, according to iSuppli.
Anticipating a surge in orders, China makers, including foreign-owned enterprises, are directing R&D efforts toward the adoption of TFT LCD. Most initial rollouts are small and medium modules because of the low investment required. Moreover, these are suitable for portable entertainment electronics, which comprise a robust sector. Many expect the emphasis will continue to be on 10.4in and below configurations in coming months.
To reduce dependence on international solution providers, manage costs and boost competitiveness, makers are bolstering capability through the construction of local LCD panel production lines. Total investment in equipment is forecast to reach $14 billion by end-2010, according to the China Electronics News.
One of the largest LCD module manufacturers in China, Tianma Microelectronics Co. Ltd set up a new organization, Shanghai Tianma. This is in partnership with Shenzhen Zhonghang, Shanghai Zhangjiang and Shanghai State-owned Assets. The venture started operations in its 4.5G TFT-LCD facility in 2008. Shanghai Tianma will emphasize 10.4in and smaller configurations for mobile terminals, automotive and entertainment device displays, and industrial instruments.
Tianma established an additional enterprise in Chengdu, Sichuan province, to put up its second 4.5G plant. Construction started in late 2008 and mass manufacture is expected to begin this year or in 2011.
BOE, which already has a facility each for 4.5G and 5G TFT LCDs, infused $2.5 billion in its first 6G plant in Hefei, Anhui province, early this year. Mass production is slated for 4Q10, with releases targeted at LCD TVs and computer monitors smaller than 37in. It can churn out 90,000 units a month.
The company's aggregate annual capacity will reach 35 million units once the third line becomes operational. Its latest project is expected to attract more than 20 upstream and downstream suppliers, which will help position Hefei as a potential hub for flat-panel displays in China.
Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.