Leading Chinese semiconductor display panel producer BOE Technology on Wednesday began production at the world's first Generation-10.5 thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (LCD) panel fabrication plant, intensifying competition among makers of the world's largest TV panels.
The company said the official operation of the fabrication facility in Hefei, capital of East China's Anhui Province, will usher in a new era of ultra-high-definition 8K display technology.
The Hefei plant, which is the world's highest generation facility, will be able to process glass substrates that reach 3,370 by 2,940 millimeters, in contrast to the 2,500 by 2,200 millimeters glass substrates now processed by mainstream Generation-8.5 fabrication plants. This change represents an 80 percent increase in area of the processed substrates.
The plant allows larger substrates to be processed more economically and it enables BOE to make forays into the production of large panels of above 55 inches, a market segment largely dominated by South Korean companies.
Zhang Yu, senior vice president of BOE, told the Global Times on Wednesday that begin production means that Chinese firms have become the leaders in the race to produce large-sized display panels.
"Chinese producers are now in the position of front-runner, ahead of their South Korean and Japanese rivals," Zhang said.
Being the world's first gives BOE many opportunities, like developing and influencing technical standards, Zhang said on the sidelines of the event.
Li Yaqin, deputy general manager at industry portal sigmaintell.com, said the commencement of the BOE Hefei fabrication facility is the starting point of a new era, in which Chinese players will take on the advantageous position currently held by South Korean companies such as LG Display and Samsung.
"By 2019, the scale of Chinese companies' panel production capacity from plants of Generation-6 and above will become No.1 in the world. By 2020, the production capacity of BOE in this segment will surpass that of LG Display to top the world," Li told the Global Times on Wednesday.
In 2017, Chinese mainland-based makers of large LCDs (more than 55 inches) only held a 2 percent global market share, while makers from South Korea and the island of Taiwan had a combined 98 percent share, according to data from signaintell.com.
According to estimates by simgaintell, China's large panel output will increase from the current 2 percent market share to 12 percent next year, boosted by the output from BOE.
"Lack of capacity to produce large-sized panels has constrained the development of Chinese players, and the operation of this line can fill that gap. However, it will take time for the facility to achieve its designed output," Li said, noting that high scrap rates occur during the production process of such large and advanced panels.
"It's a good starting point to break the monopoly of rival companies and realize innovation at the world's highest-generation production facility," Li said, noting that display panels are increasingly growing in size and boasting ever-higher definition. These trends pose a growing challenge to production capacity.
South Korea, which has kept the top position in the global LCD market for nearly a decade in terms of production, appears about to be overtaken by China, Seoul-based Aju Business Daily reported in September.
In 2018, China will produce 35.7 percent of the world's large LCD panels to stand No.1 for the first time in history, followed by the island of Taiwan's 29.8 percent and South Korea's 28.8 percent, the report said, citing market research firm Witzview.
China's large LCD panel production capacity is projected to reach 48.3 percent of the global total in 2020, according to the report.
However, Li said although Chinese panel makers will enjoy world's leading position in production capacity, there are still considerable gaps with makers from South Korea and the island of Taiwan in terms of industrial structure, overall strength and technological innovation.
By 2022, the competition among BOE, LG Display and Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry Co will still be closely matched, Li said.
While it took years for rivals to bring scrap rates into a reasonable range,
Zhang told the Global Times that BOE plans to achieve reasonable scrap rates at the Hefei plant before July 2018.
In terms of innovation, the shift from 4K display technology to 8K technology could be a turning point for Chinese players to further narrow the gap, Li said.