Sales: $144 million
Yukio Kawasaki, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Akio Oda, president of Kureha
Tsuruga, Iwakuni, Shiga, Japan
Spunbond, needlepunch, resin bonded, spunlaced, thermal bonded, stitch bonded
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Kurehalock, Dynac
Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunch carpets, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster bases
Toyobo’s annual production of polyester spunbond nonwovens is 12,000 tons while its subsidiary Kureha makes resin bonded, needlepunched, thermal bonded and spunbonded nonwovens with a capacity of about 7000 tons. Its Yuho subsidiary makes needlepunch, spunlaced and stitchbonded nonwovens with a capacity of 3000 tons per year.
Toyobo added a new spunbond line in 2008 but this line had not become operational until recently because of the rapid decline in production. Production on the new line replaces capacity made on an older line which was shut down in October 2009. The result of these efforts was a drop in spunbond nonwovens production from 14,000 to 12,000 tons.
In 2009, sales volumes decreased as many of the company’s core markets—automotives, construction, geotextiles and civil engineering—suffered. The main uses of Toyobo’s spunbond nonwovens are automotives, construction and civil engineering which together account for 80-85% of the total. Therefore, it is necessary for activity in these markets to recover for the company to return to success.
To help speed this along, Toyobo is developing new products for new applications. These include filters, insulation materials, sound absorption materials and hygienic goods. Yet, the spunbonded nonwovens made from polymers other than polyester are also necessary and the new products of other polymers have been pushed forward to development.
Overseas, Kureha has been making automotive filters in Thailand and the U.S. Meanwhile, in China the company has been expanding outside the automotives market in China as the use of nonwovens has been increasing in usage.