Sales: $170 million
Description: Key Personnel
Toshio Takanashi, general manager, nonwoven fabrics division; Katsuhiko Hinamoto, general manager, spunbonded fabric sales; Tetsuya Nakamura, general manger, Bemliese sales
Eltas, Bemliese, Microweb, Semia, Smash, Precise
coverstock, wipes, gauze, packaging, white blood corpuscle removing filters
Like many nonwovens producers, Asahi Kasei’s profits have decreased—due to the steep manufacturing cost increases such as the cost of oil-based raw materials—even as its sales have increased. Also challenging its business is declining interest in SMMS and polypropylene-based nonwovens for diapers because these products account for more than half of Asahi Kasei’s total sales.
The result is the company’s attempts to balance its special-purpose, value-added nonwovens, which have lower productivity, with higher volume, lower margin businesses. Asahi Kasei has been achieving this balance by promoting its polyester and nylon spunbonded nonwovens improving on its polypropylene-based spunbonded nonwoven line to add polyester and nylon spunbonded production capabilities
Meanwhile, Asahi Kasei has been making its value-added Precise nonwovens, comprising a three layer laminate structures of PET where the thickness of each layer can be altered depending on the application. This nonwoven is manufactured through a one-process manufacturing method and is a three-layer structure with 1.2-2.0 microdiameter of a fiber diameter in the middle layer and 14-15 micrometers of both outer layers, which allow them to collect dust while maintaining high breathability and soakage potential. These characteristics are ideal for applications such as filters and masks. If a liquid of a viscosity is applied to the surface of a nonwoven, the middle layer would prevent the liquid from infiltrating into the rear face. This specialty quality makes Precise ideal for use as a base material for adhesive tapes and binders.
Currently, Precise’s output is only at 50% capacity but because of its potential to develop new end use applications, Asahi Kasei intends to increase the operational rage at the end of 2008, making it fully operational by the end of 2009.