Sales: $141 Million
Description: Key Personnel
Yukio Kawasaki, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Hidemichi Mukunashi, managing director of Kureha
Tsuruga, Iwakuni, Shiga
Spunbonded, needlepunched, resin bonded, spunlaced, stitch bonded
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Kurehalock, Dynac
Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, carpeting, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster braces
Operating as three companies, Toyobo, Osaka, Japan, achieved nonwovens sales of $141 million (¥16 billion) last year. Spunbonded nonwovens are produced by Toyobo while its subsidiaries Kureha and Yuho manufacture resin bonded, needlepunched and spunbonded nonwovens and needlepunched spunlaced and stitch bonded materials, respectively. The company discontinued its melt blown operations in September 2001.
In terms of capital expansion, Toyobo is currently constructing a new polyester spunbond facility with an annual capacity of 6000 tons, which is scheduled to be complete in October. The new investment brings Toyobo’s total production of polyester spunbonded materials to 14,000 tons per year. The new site will help relieve undercapacity problems at Toyobo, which reports all of its lines running at full capacity, leaving little room for sales growth. While waiting for the new capacity to come onstream, Toyobo has been importing spunbonded nonwovens made by foreign companies. Last year, Toyobo purchased 1000 tons of the material.
Kureha has been targeting the automotive interiors, automotive engine filters and plaster base markets with its needlepunched nonwovens. The subsidiary also produces special spunbonded nonwovens for hot melt bonding. Nylon and polyester are used as polymers for these thin nonwovens, which are sometimes called cobweb sheets. Melt blown nonwovens are often used for hot melt bonding. Therefore, Kureha has been developing them for spunbonded nonwovens for some time.
In terms of market development, Toyobo is focusing its attention on the automotive engine filter market, a move that is in synergy with the growing automotive market in Southeast Asia. Additionally, the company recently announced plans to enter the battery separator market, an area long dominated by rival Japan Vilene, Tokyo, Japan. The company has already begun sample distribution of nonwoven separators for nickel and hydrogen batteries to producers. Nickel and hydrogen batteries are typically used for hybrid electric vehicles, which are expected to grow their share of the world automotives market.