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Sony Corp. said Monday it will start mass producing large liquid crystal display panels in summer 2005 at a joint facility it will launch with Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea.

Sony, which had initially lagged behind its rivals in terms of flat-screen TVs, hopes to grab a bigger slice of the rapidly growing market by jointly manufacturing LCD panels with Samsung.

The two companies announced the $2 billion joint venture in October to manufacture so-called seventh-generation amorphous FTF LCD panels.

The production line will be established at Samsung’s facility in Tangjeong, South Korea. Mass production will begin in the second quarter of 2005, with a monthly capacity of 60,000 panels. Panel generation refers to so-called mother glass panels, from which smaller panels are cut to make TV screens.

Larger mother glass panels are more cost-efficient and are particularly useful for the manufacture of large LCD TVs.

The Sony-Samsung joint venture’s seventh-generation panels, which measure 1.87 meters × 2.2 meters, will be the industry’s largest.

Sharp Corp., the world’s largest LCD TV maker, started production of sixth-generation panels, which measure 1.5 meters × 1.8 meters, in January at its Kameyama plant in Mie Prefecture.

Larger mother glass panels pose a greater challenge for manufactures because the thin plate is fragile and prone to break during production.

Industry observers pay close attention to each production line’s yield, or a successful production rate, to measure the line’s productivity.

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