In response to the rapid growth of demand for liquid crystal displays (LCDs) in world markets, as well as the increase in LCD sizes, Kuraray Co., Ltd. has decided to expand its manufacturing facilities for poval film, which is used in the production of polarized film. The Company's annual capacity will be expanded by 15 million m² to 46 million m². Completion of the expansion is scheduled for April 2005.

Poval film's superior transparency, dye affinity, antistatic properties, and stretchability make it the optimal base for the production of polarized film, which determines the display quality of an LCD. Kuraray has been almost the sole provider of this material from the era of liquid crystal calculators in the 1970s to the present day.

Kuraray's manufacturing operations are vertically integrated from the production of poval resin, the raw material, through the manufacture of poval film, and the stability of quality and supply this system offers are highly regarded. Presently, all poval film manufacturing is conducted by Kuraray Saijo Co., Ltd. (Saijo City, Ehime Prefecture). The new manufacturing facilities, to be installed at Kuraray Tamashima Co., Ltd. (Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture), will further enhance stability of supply.

Polarized film manufacturers are studying the installation of equipment to produce wider polarized film sheets in response to the expansion of LCD manufacturing lines and the advent of large-screen (30-40 inch) LCD televisions. Kuraray's planned expansion of facilities is an efficient response to these trends. The expansion of LCD production and growth in screen size are also bringing demands for higher quality, and Kuraray is responding to these demands as well. The increase in sheet width and the increase in quality are contributing to improved LCD yields, which can be expected to play a part in the expansion of this market.

As a result of increased demand for notebook PCs and LCD monitors, as well as the rapid acceptance of LCD televisions, the LCD market is forecast to break the ¥3 trillion mark in 2003. An increase in sales of LCD televisions and increasing screen size, together with continuing growth in the size of monitors, are expected to bring continued annual growth of 30 - 40% in this market.

Kuraray projects that these market trends will result in 30% annual growth in demand for optical-use poval film. The expansion of Kuraray's manufacturing facilities in this fiscal year and next, and a visionary facilities layout, will allow the Company to respond rapidly to growth in demand.

Kuraray will remain the leading company in the manufacture of poval film for the production of polarized film used in LCDs. The Company is moving forward strongly with the development of new technology and improvements in product quality, contributing in this way to the expansion of the LCD market

Summary of Facilities Expansion

Location Kuraray Tamashima Co., Ltd.
Tamashima Otoshima 7471, Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture, Japan
Annual production capacity
Current 31 million m²
Planned expansion 15 million m²
April 2005 (projected) 46 million m²
Capital investment Approximately ¥3 billion

Supplementary information

1. Scope of Market for Large TFT Liquid Crystal Displays by Application (number of units)

(Estimates by DisplaySearch of the U.S.)

Scope of Market for Large TFT Liquid Crystal Displays by Application (number of units)

2. Shift of Kuraray's optical-use poval film manufacturing capacity

Shift of Kuraray's optical-use poval film manufacturing capacity Note: figures for 2006 and 2007 assume next fiscal year's expansion.

3. LCD Structure

LCD Structure

4. Polarized film structure

LCD Polarized film structure