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Samsung to add LCD lines in Tangjeong Crystal Valley

Posted: 18 May 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Samsung LCD line? LCD? LED? flat-panel TV?

Entrance to Samsung's sprawling LCD manufacturing facilities in Tangjeong Crystal Valley, located 100km south west from Seoul.

Samsung Electronics' claimed hold of nearly a third of the global LCD panel market should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the sector, according to market researcher DisplaySearch. Still, the sheer scale of Samsung's Tangjeong Crystal Valley LCD manufacturing complex, built on two million square meters that 10 years ago held a vineyard, impresses a visitor.

Even more impressive is Samsung's rapid ascension in LCDs. The company initiated R&D as late as 1991 but today is the world's largest LCD panel manufacturer in terms of revenue, holding a claimed 27.6 percent share of the market. It has held the lead for eight consecutive years.

Samsung is also the world's largest manufacturer of memory chips, the largest flat-panel TV maker and the second-largest producer of mobile phones (after Nokia).

To Jaeyoung Han, vice president of Samsung's LCD business, Samsung's transformation seems nothing short of "a miracle."

Han started at Samsung in 1988, selling black-and-white TV sets in Africa and the Middle East. He worked in Samsung's memory business for 15 years in Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom, joining Samsung's LCD group only last year.

When Samsung dipped its toe in the LCD market in 1992, "Samsung's benchmark was Japan's Sharp Corp.," Han remarked to EE Times during an interview here. "Sony seemed like it was 100 years ahead of us in those days."

But just over a decade later, it was Sonydesperate to establish a presence in the LCD TV marketthat had no choice but to partner with Samsung on LCD panel production. The resultant venture, S-LCD Corp., was formed in 2004 and operates today in Tangjeong Crystal Valley.

Tangjeong, 100km southwest of Seoul, houses Samsung's four advanced fab lines for LCD cells and 43 lines for LCD modules. The site cranks out large-screen LCD screens in massive volumes for shipment to a range of OEMs, including internal Samsung customers.

Joe Abelson, VP of display research at iSuppli, largely credits the Korean giant's continuous investment in technology innovation for bringing Samsung so far, so fast. Samsung also got a nice boost from the weakness of South Korea's currency in the past few years, Abelson noted.

Samsung's rise stands in contrast to the struggles of its Japanese rivals to cope with their country's economic woes during the mid-2000s. As indecisiveness over R&D spending and product development tripped up Japan's CE titans, Samsung increased its investments in R&D volume production.

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