Location: Osaka, Japan
Sales: $73 million
Description: Key Personnel
Mikihiro Hama, president, Kuraray Kuraflex
Okayama, Saijo and Ibaragi
Resin bonded, thermal bonded, spunlaced, meltblown steam jet
Coverstock, wipes, medical and household materials
Kuraray Kuraflex, Kuraray Saijio and Kuraflex Ibaragi are among the companies manufacturing nonwovens within Kuraray. Kuraray Kuraflex produces thermal bonded, spunlaced and resin bonded nonwovens with a total capacity of 10,400 tons per year. Kuraray Saijio produces meltblown nonwovens with a capacity of 1800 tons per year and Kuraflex Ibaragi makes 3500 tons of spunlaced nonwovens per year. Additionally, a facility that makes steam jet nonwovens with 1000 tons per year in Kuraray Kuraflex Okayama plant has been operating since October 2006.
Spunlaced nonwovens made by Kuraflex Ibaragi have been supplied by Pigeon Co., which manufactures and sells goods for babies, particularly baby wipes. Among the two major manufactures of baby wipes, Unicharm and Pigeon, Unicharm uses its own nonwovens and Pigeon uses nonwovens made by Kuraflex Ibaragi.
Steam jet nonwovens are a new type of nonwovens developed by Kuraray in cooperation with Mitsubishi Rayon Engineering. Since it began production in October 2006, this technology has been applied in a number of application areas including bandages, cushioning and materials for walls. To help expand this business, Kuraray will add another line featuring this technology next year. The first line will make thin and soft nonwovens using the technology while the second line will use thicker, finer nonwovens using the technology for wall materials.
Looking ahead, Kuraray has been focusing on adding higher valued-added products, such as steam jet nonwovens, to its repertoire to lessen its reliance on diapers, san pro items and baby wipes, which are markets characterized by severe competition.