Date Visited: October 8, 1991
Report Author: R.D. Shelton
Mr. Sakamoto took us to the Nippon Electric Glass (NEG) offices in Otsu by car. Most of the visit consisted of discussions in a conference room. A company video showed NEG's glass manufacturing methods and applications of many of their products. Since the discussion ended 30 minutes earlier than scheduled, Mr. Wada provided an impromptu tour of the physical testing lab.
NEG is affiliated with NEC, which owns 40% of its stock. Its sales were 203.1 billion yen in FY 1990, up slightly from 194.6 billion yen the previous year. In addition to some glass- building materials, it makes a wide range of glass-related products for the electric and electronic industries: fluorescent light tubes, lenses for LEDs, windows for EPROMs, ceramic IC packages, bulbs for CRT displays, precision sheet glass for LCD displays, and many others. Of its 4,610 employees, only about 70 are engaged in corporate research and development--NEG has no central research facility. They have plants in Fujisawa, Shiga-Takasuki, Notogawa, and the one we visited in Otsu, near Nara.
The discussion centered on glass products for displays. In 1984, NEG pioneered large CRT bottles at the request of Sony. They presently are the world leader in large CRT bottles, and they make the largest--a 45-inch diagonal giant we saw in their display at the Japan Electronics Show. Mr. Wada believes that the CRT business will continue to be profitable for them because of the advent of HDTV.
However, the main product of interest to this panel was NEG's OA-2 alkali-free sheet glass intended for the substrate of active matrix LCDs. Corning's 7059 glass, which is being used by most of the display manufacturers the panel visited, has about 90% of this market. NEG is attempting to increase its market share by specifying OA-2 with a slightly higher strain-point temperature: 635 degrees centigrade, compared to 590 degrees centigrade for 7059. They also claim that OA-2 has somewhat fewer defects than the Corning glass. Mr. Wada said that Corning has recently raised its prices, and that should help NEG. He also said that NEG had sufficient manufacturing capacity to supply a much greater market share.