While China-based panel makers have been expanding production capacities to increase global market share, China-based glass substrate makers, mainly the Tunghsu Group, Irico Display Device and China National Building Materials, are still far less competitive with Corning, Asahi Glass and Nippon Electric Glass, as they can only produce 6G and below models currently, according industry sources.
The China makers still lack key technology and face patent barriers for expanding their businesses, the sources said, adding that the China makers still are unable to mass produce LTPS substrates. All of these factors have led to upstream imbalances in the China supply chain.
China panel makers are expected to hold roughly a 20% share in panel production capacity by 2015, which means the need for substrates is increasing. However, China substrate makers were only able to fulfill about nine million square meters of substrate surface demand in 2013 when demand was actually around 55 million square meters, and there are few signs indicating supply will increase.
China substrate makers have also been lacking overall quality to meet the standards of international vendors, which in turn is shifting orders outside of China, the sources added.