The new plant will manufacture a full range of spunmelt fabrics with a main focus on the medical fabrics market. The site also enables future expansions of Ahlstrom businesses in India. The new facility, using state- of-the-art nonwovens technology, will be located in the Mundra Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the western state of Gujarat and is expected to start production by the end of 2009.
"The medical market sector demands continually higher performing products", said Paul Marold, vice president and general manager for Medical Fabrics. "This investment in state of the art spunmelt technology not only provides us with a strategic and cost-competitive location close to our suppliers and global customers but also positions Ahlstrom well for the emerging medical nonwovens market of India."
The global demand for spunmelt medical fabrics is estimated to grow annually by 9%, and double-digit growth rates are seen in emerging markets. Mundra Special Economic Zone is one of the largest SEZs in India offering significant tax, infrastructure as well as logistics advantages.
Ahlstrom also announced it would invest €10 million in new nonwovens capacity in Turin, Italy. The investment consists of a rebuild of the paper machine 4, currently producing release base papers, to manufacture nonwovens for industrial applications. The line using wetlaid technology will be operational by the end of the first quarter of 2009. It is targeted to serve customers within the construction and building industries.
In other news, Ahlstrom will double its production capacity for specialty glassfiber reinforcements in the U.S. to meet fast growing demand especially within the wind energy markets. The capacity increase will be implemented in two phases by the end of 2011, and the total investment value is estimated to be approximately €7 million.