Samsung has opened a new production line for LCD (liquid crystal displays) at its facility in Korea.

Apple recently announced a $100 million investment in the company, in a bid to address the shortage of LCD displays on the market. The production line can produce nine 14.1-inch, six 17-inch or four 21.3-inch TFT- (thin film transistor) LCD panels from one glass substrate.

Being able to use larger glass substrates means more panels can be produced from each sheet of glass and so production becomes more efficient. Until now, the company's most advanced production line used glass sheets 600-x- 700mm – between third- and fourth-generation production technology.

Samsung say its new production line can turn out 270,000 14.1-inch TFT-LCD panels per month and this will be doubled to 540,000 panels in 2001. Total capacity at Samsung will now reach up to 1.2 million panels per month.

The plant opens at a time when the LCD market is booming. Flat-panels are in use in everything from cellular telephones to televisions. The worldwide LCD-market is expected to be worth $42.2 billion in 2006, according to research analysts IDC Japan.

IDC Japan estimates that Samsung is the world's largest manufacturer of TFT-LCD panels, with a 20.5 per cent share of the global market during the first half of 2000. Samsung, which itself reports TFT-LCD sales of $2.2 billion, is forecast to see similar sales exceed $3 billion this year, according to IDC Japan.