A flat-screen joint venture between Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Sony Corp said on Tuesday it began volume production at a new manufacturing facility that took $1.5 billion to build.

The five-year old venture, named S-LCD, said in a statement that the new production line would use larger eighth-generation (8G) motherglass and produce liquid crystal display (LCD) panels for TV brands including Samsung and Sony.

Sales of flat-screen TVs have remained healthy in the midst of the global downturn thanks to sharp price falls over the past year. Panel makers have been stepping up output as prices stabilize, while China's policy of subsidizing electronics purchases in rural areas has boosted demand.

S-LCD invested 1.8 trillion won ($1.46 billion) in the new line, its second 8G facility located south of Seoul. It said it would ramp up monthly production capacity to 70,000 glass sheets by year-end.

Samsung is the world's biggest maker of LCD panels and LCD TV sets, while Sony is the No. 2 LCD TV brand.

($1=1232.2 Won)

(Reporting by Rhee So-eui; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)