$132 million (¥14.6 billion)
Key PersonnelYasushi Nawa, general manager, functional fabricated products division
PlantsYokkaichi and Iwakuni
ProcessesSpunbonded, needlepunched, meltblown, thermal bonded
Brand NamesTafnel, Syntex
Major MarketsCoverstock, geotextiles, oil absorbing materials, air filters, wipes, agricultural materials, household materials
With headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, Mitsui Chemicals produces a total of 48,000 tons per year of spunbonded, needlepunched, meltblown and thermal bonded nonwovens. This includes 25,000 tons of polypropylene-based spunbonded materials; 9000 tons of SMS, all made in Japan; and 14,000 tons of SMMS made in Thailand through the company’s MHM division. MHM, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsui Chemicals, has been producing SMMS in Thailand since 2003 to meet increasing demand for diaper material.
MHM is fully operational with 16,000 tons of planned annual capacity expected to come onstream in January 2008. The expansion will bring Mitsui’s total production capacity in Thailand to 30,000 tons per year while its capacity in Japan will reach 64,000 tons annually. To support this additional capacity, the company plans to introduce new production equipment for its MHM business in 2009-2010.
The nonwovens produced in Thailand will be general-purpose materials for diapers and other end uses while the fabrics manufactured in Japan will consist of value-added substrates for higher-end applications. Up until now, Mitsui has produced polypropylene spunbonded nonwovens for diapers on a third machine with a production capacity of 12,600 tons per year as well as on a fourth, 8000-ton-per-year line.
Reflecting an overall trend in the diaper market toward composites such as SMS and SMMS, Mitsui reports that demand for single-layer polypropylene spunbond is on the decline. In response, the company plans to remodel its existing third and fourth lines so that they can produce added-value nonwovens for uses other than diapers. Meanwhile, the company expects to be able to meet demand from the Japanese diaper market by importing materials from its facility in Thailand.