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March 31, 2005
Olympus Corporation
Takano Co., Ltd.
Olympus and Takano Reach Agreement on Comprehensive Business Partnership in the Field of FPD* Inspection Equipment
Creating New Added Value through Infrastructure Optimization and Technology Sharing
Olympus Corporation (Olympus, President: Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, headquarters: Tokyo) and Takano Co., Ltd. (Takano, President: Jun Takano, headquarters: Nagano Prefecture) have reached agreement on a comprehensive business partnership in the field of FPD inspection equipment. Activities covered by the partnership will include development, manufacturing and sales.
There has been rapid growth in the market for LCD*2 panels for use in televisions and other products. Olympus and Takano plan to share and optimize their business infrastructure in the field of LCD inspection systems. Their aim is to provide their customers with new types of LCD inspection systems and quality management systems by combining the technologies and product areas in which each excels.
LCDs are widely used as computer monitors and notebook screens, and more recently there has also been a rapid increase in their use in televisions. LCD producers are working to expand the use of LCDs through dramatic cost reductions and the introduction of innovative technology. This is reflected in increasingly demanding customer expectations toward product capabilities, prices and delivery times in the area of inspection equipment.
Olympus and Takano have responded to this situation by investigating ways to reduce costs, improve the quality of their products and efficiently develop new products based on unique technologies. By sharing their resources, including technology, know-how and infrastructure, the two companies hope to achieve business growth and stability. They have now reached agreement on comprehensive collaboration across a wide spectrum of activities, including development, manufacturing, services and sales. This new relationship is expected to contribute to the development of the FPD industry by dramatically enhancing the value of products and services supplied to customers.
* FPD (flat panel display)
FPD is a generic term encompassing liquid crystal displays (LCDs), plasma displays (PDPs) and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays.
*2  LCD (liquid crystal display)
LCDs consist of two panels: a TFT array containing switching elements for the liquid crystal cells, and a color filter (CF) to produce colors. LCD production plants use numerous inspection and measurement (adjustment) systems to improve yields and quality in the production processes for TFT arrays and CFs.
Overview of Activities - Benefits from Partnership
Olympus has built an extensive resource of precision optical and digital technology through its involvement in the development of microscopes and measurement equipment for its industrial equipment business. It has also applied this knowledge to the development of industrial inspection equipment and systems. In the FPD area, it has been supplying equipment to major panel manufacturers since the initial emergence of the LCD market. Its main products include macro/micro inspection systems for TFT array panels, and quality management systems, especially line-width measurement systems. Systems based on Olympus know-how are already in use in advanced seventh-generation*3 plants.
Takano has applied its advanced technology to the development of system products, especially image processing inspection systems. In the FPD area, it has supplied systems inspection, measurement, adjustment and quality management systems primarily to leading manufacturers of LCD color filter panels and PDPs. It has maintained a dominant share of the market for pattern inspection systems for LCD CF panels since the transition to fifth-generation*3 plants.
Olympus and Takano are confident that their new partnership will strengthen their capabilities in the fields in which they excel through the combination of their strengths, including technology, knowledge and business infrastructure, in their respective areas of business. They also expect to achieve dramatic efficiency improvements and cost savings, as well as significant enhancements to the value of products and services supplied to customers.
*3  Generation
The size of the mother glass used to manufacture LCDs is commonly referred to as the “generation.” The largest at present is seventh-generation (G7), but manufacturers are planning to invest in G8 facilities.
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