Corning breaks through glass ceiling in China

Glass combine Corning is to spend $800 million to build an LCD glass substrate factory in the People’s Republic of China.

The factory will be built in the Beijing Digital TV Park and Corning will start digging in September. Production will behin in the first half of 2012.

The plant will include Gen 8.5 glass melting and finishing functions.

But Corning is not confining itself to the PRC. The company has already rebooted a project at the Taichung Taiwan glass factory and is also increasing output at its Japanese factory in Shizuoka to make its trademark “Gorilla” glass. This brand of glass provides damage and scratch resistance for handhelds and smartphones.

Sales of the glass will rise to $200 million and may reach as much as $1 billion a year in 2011.

Corning is very bullish about growth in LCD substrates for the next few years. LCD TVs are set to expand in both Asia and South America, while people in established advanced markets are replacing their screens faster.

Why China? China is a leader in LCD panel development, said Corning. The Chinese government is promoting the adoption of LCD TVs in the country. The same phenomenon is happening in India.

corning thinks that higher than expected demand for LCD TVs, laptops and desktops means the rest of this year will show better than expected sales.  It thinks annual LCD glass demand could be as much as 3.1 billion square feet in 2010.

Capital expenditure is likely to be higher in 2011 than the $1.2 billion Corning will spend this year.