As one of the major IT hubs in China, Chengdu, the capital city of the southwestern province of Sichuan, is actively developing a mega complex in the suburban Shuangliu District to cluster mainly semiconductor players and some prospective investors in other IT fields, seeking to accelerate strategic developments of IC designs, software design tools and smart manufacturing. Revenues from the complex are estimated to reach CNY20 billion (US$3.11 billion) by 2020 and break CNY100 billion by 2030, according to Chengdu Xingu Industrial Parks Development.
Among the companies there is Chengdu CEC Panda Display Technology, a newcomer to China's LCD panel industry but touted as the country's most successful homegrown panel development project.
Young company with young team
The company spent only 16 months completing the construction of its 8.6G panel line, from groundbreaking in September 2016 to successful trial production in January 2018, compared to 18-20 months required by other peer makers, according to Li Xiangfeng, director of the firm's production process. He revealed that the young company has a young workforce, with the average age of all its employees reaching only 26.8.
LCD displays will remain the market mainstream within the next five years, with 4K displays already becoming standard screens for midrange to high-end TVs and 8K TVs to be available soon, Lee commented, adding that 8K panels are already on his company's production agenda for 2018.
With a total investment cost of CNY28 billion, the plant mainly adopts 8.6G Nikon lithography machines and applies five-mask metal oxide processing technology in manufacturing 4K, 8K IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) TV panels, according to Lee.
Lee continued that his plant now mainly manufactures large-size IGZO TV panels, available in 50-inch, 58-inch, 65-inch and 68-inch specs, and part of its capacity may be also arranged for producing 32-inch and 39-inch LCD monitor panels, depending on customer demand. He disclosed that the plant is also likely to roll out panels sized 98-inch or over 100-inch by the end of 2018.
As China's first fully homegrown 8.6G metal oxide LCD panel line, the plant features 15-20 smart manufacturing systems that can provide real-time data analysis concerning equipment usage conditions to help boost production efficiency and yield rates, Lee stressed.
Lee revealed that in its first-phase development, the plant's monthly production capacity will reach 60,000 pieces in September 2018, and the second-stage development will see trial production begin in August, with a combined monthly capacity of 120,000 panels to be achieved in the first quarter of 2019 at the earliest.
At the moment, Chengdu CEC Panda Display Technology is teaming up with Sichuan University of Electronic Science and Technology to set up a display technology exchange platform. The platform will allow major panel makers to exchange and share information on the latest tech innovations, which can then be incorporated into commercial production - a joint effort that can upgrade the development and competitiveness of China's LCD panel industry, according to Lee.