In response to the worldwide growth in demand for rear-projection televisions (RPTVs), Kuraray has decided to expand the production of opto-screens for RPTVs at Nakajo Plant in Japan. Annual production capacity at the plant is to be raised from 3 million sheets to 4.8 million, with operation of the additional facilities scheduled to start in April 2004.

Opto-screens consist of Fresnel lens sheets, which converge scattered light, and lenticular lens sheets, which ensure a uniform distribution of light and improve the contrast of the TV picture. In 1988, Kuraray has made notable progress in the development of high-contrast screen technology. The Company is now the world's leading maker of such screens, with a market share of approximately 50%.

In line with the growing popularity of digital broadcasting and DVDs, consumers are coming to demand a higher level of image definition. Sales of large-screen TVs, including full-scale "home theater" systems, are increasing year by year. Annual worldwide sales of large-screen TVs (defined as 30-inches and over) are estimated to have been close to 14 million sets in 2002, and demand is still growing. Currently, large-screen TVs utilize CRTs, LCDs, and PDPs. However, due to its advantage of price and screen size, RPTVs have now become the most commonly in the United States for TVs of over 40 inches (the largest screens available thus far are 70 inches).

An estimated 4 million RPTVs were sold worldwide in 2002. Even in the United States, the biggest market for these products, RPTVs represent only around 10% of all TVs owned. In view of the potential, sales of RPTVs are forecast to grow at around 20% per annum over the next few years. Demand for RPTVs is increasing rapidly in China, too, in the near future, and global sales are projected at between 7.5 million and 10 million by 2007.

Outline of Planned Capital Investment

Location of facilities Nakajo Plant (Nakajomachi, Kita-Kanbara-gun, Niigata Prefecture)
Annual production capacity Current -3 million
After expansion - 4.8 million
Start of operation April 2004
Total investment Approximately 2,000 million yen

For reference

1. Sales of RPTVs (estimates by Kuraray)

  1999 2002 2005 2007
North America 1.48 2.6 4.1 5.5
Europe 0.1 0.25 0.30 0.35
Asia 0.28 1.15 2.60 3.75
Total 1.86 4.00 7.00 9.60

(million sets)

2. Comparison of large-screen TV technologies by features

Screen size
Energy efficiency ~
Sales in 2002
(estimates by Kuraray)
4 million sets 0.5 million sets Under 0.1 million sets 9.4 million sets

Note : "Large-screen" refers to screens of 30 inches or larger.