Spunmelt Market Grows Around The Globe

By Tim Wright, Editor | February 7, 2013

With all the spunmelt lines coming onstream around the world, this market represents the fastest growing segment of the nonwovens industry.

While mature markets have seen expansion in spunmelt capacity it’s really the emerging economies that are fueling the impressive level of investment in this nonwovens technology.

China is leading the way of course, along with other Asian markets, the Middle East, India and parts of South America. If these high growth markets are able to sustain their economic development, overseas demand for hygiene materials, particularly for disposable diapers, is forecasted to continue to increase significantly. Following these macroeconomic forces diaper manufacturers and their nonwoven suppliers are ramping up production in the developing parts of the world, a trend likely not to slow down any time soon.

In the Middle East the Turkish company Gulsan announced its new investment in Cairo, Egypt, the company’s first line outside of Turkey. The new line, which will be operational in this year’s third quarter, will be a 4.2 meter, six-beam Reicofil 4 machine capable of producing 20,000 tons of the material for the hygiene market a year. According to Gulsan, the decision to invest in Egypt will support its future growth in the industry and the region and reinforces the company’s position as one of the leading manufacturers of spunmelt materials in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

Czech-based Pegas Nonwovens is also investing in Egypt by adding a 20,000-ton spunmelt line there, a move that also represented that company’s first investment outside of its home country. Pegas Czech synthetic textiles maker Pegas Nonwovens has struck a deal with a major customer allowing it to go ahead with its plans to build a new production line in Egypt, the company says. The new production line in Egypt is expected to produce 20,000 tons of textiles a year and should be launched in the second half of 2013, according to reports. The agreement should be signed within two weeks, Pegas says, without giving any details of the new customer. The company says the client will take nonwoven textiles from the new Egypt production line to supply its own plants in the Middle East. On September 21, Pegas signed a contract with the production technology supplier Reifenhäuser Reicofil GmbH & Co. KG. Concurrently, PSG International a.s. was selected as the general contractor for the building works part of the project. The contract with PSG International a.s. is expected to be signed in the next few days.

Saudi-based Mada Nonwovens will invest in a six-beam SSMMMS Reicofil 4 line for the production of polypropylene nonwovens. The investment will more than double the company’s current nonwovens capacity. The company already operates one Reicofill 4 line that it also able to produce bicomponent products.The new investment will allow Mada Nonwovens to manufacture innovative products with the lower basis weights favored by the hygiene industry. The company produces a broad range of products for hygiene, medical and industrial applications as well polyester nonwovens used for roofing and geotextiles applications.

Saudi nonwovens producer Advanced Fabrics (SAAF), announced it will add a new Reicofil line. The contract is for a state-of-the-art, six-beam spunmelt line from industry, which will be installed and running early in 2013. The company’s strategy is to invest in the latest technology to expand SAAF’s international business in the medical and hygiene fields. SAAF already has two spunmelt lines targeting these markets.

Kurt Nonwovens has added a new spunmelt lines at its headquarters in Gaziantep, Turkey. The new line, a three-beam SMS line featuring the latest technology, will bring Kurt’s total nonwovens output to 15,000 tons per year. The polypropylene-based nonwovens made on the line will target the baby diaper and medical markets in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.

General Nonwovens has invested in 2 new production lines within 1 year. One of them is a through-air bonding line and the other is a spunbond/meltblown/spunbond line.

General Nonwovens is installing the SMS line, which will come on stream by the second quarter of this year. With these recent investments, General Nonwovens’ capacity is more then doubled reaching 20,000 tons. The capacity increase is a part of its strategy to complete its product portfolio in the hygiene market serving all types of nonwovens used in baby diaper industry. The company says baby diaper market penetration in Turkey and the Middle East is still growing, which compensates for the new capacities.

Mumbai-based Global Nonwovens finalized plans to add a large-scale spunmelt line at its plant in Nashik, India. Set to come onstream in 2014, the new line will have an initial capacity of 20,000 metric tons, which will target hygiene and medical applications. This investment represents the first significant spunmelt line in India and executives at Global Nonwovens say that the site is being designed to accommodate significant future expansions.

In China First Quality Nonwovens began operation of the first of two previously announced lines at its Wuxi plant. The U.S.-based company didn’t say when the second of the two state-of-the-art nonwoven machines will be operational.

Avgol began production of its third line in China, raising the Israel-based company’s production capacity in the country to 40,000 tons. “We identified great opportunities in the China/Asia Pacific markets, which are considered markets with high growth rates in the categories of disposable hygiene products and specifically baby diapers," says Shlomo Liran, Avgol’s CEO.

Avgol’s new China line began three months later than the 4th Reico line Avgol added at its flagship factory in Mocksville, NC, U.S., which is expected to produce and sell 60,000 metric tons annually.

The purchase of the two new production lines in the U.S. and China amounts to an investment of $80 million and raises Avgol's production capacity by 30%, or 30,000 tons of finished products a year, so that overall company production of finished products will reach 140,000 tons a year.

The Jofo Group invested more than $60 million in a new 3.2-meter wide, multi-beam Reicofil-IV spunmelt line and a separate finishing line in its Weifang plant in Shandong, China. The line was delivered in April 2012 and began operations in the fourth quarter of 2012. Currently, there is an existing 4.2-meter Reicofil-IV multi-beam line at the Weifang plant, which will be able to make more than 30,000 tons of material after the second line is complete. Jofo says it is targeting the rapidly growing disposable hygiene and medical application areas in Asia with the new capacity.

Jofo's current nonwovens capacity is more than 55,000 tons, and the company has production facilities in Guangdong, Shandong and some other areas in China. The second Weifang line and other ongoing projects brings the company’s total capacity above 100,000 tons.

Mitsui Chemicals formed a new spunbond nonwovens operation in China to supply the disposable diaper market. According to the Tokyo, Japan company, the facility will begin operation in September 2013 with a 15,000 ton line in Tianjin, China.

Mitsui already operates a 30,000-ton spunbond operation in Thailand as well as a 34,000-ton plant in Japan. In Japan, the company added a 15,000-ton per year line that began operations in April 2012. When the two most recently announced investments are complete, the group’s total spunbond capacity will be 79,000 tons per year.

Toray Advanced Materials added a third line to its Chinese operation. Known as Toray Polytech Nantong (TPN), the Chinese operation has a total capacity of 58,000 tons with the new 20,000-ton line that came onstream in July 2012.

Toray’s spunbond business targets hygiene companies in Korea, Japan, China and other Asian countries. It was established in 2006 with an 18,000-ton line and a second line is set to come onstream in March 2011, bringing another 20,000 tons online. Toray also makes 50,000 tons of spunmelt nonwovens per year in Korea.

Toray Industries and Toray Advanced Materials Korea Inc. will begin making polypropylene spunbond nonwovens in Indonesia in 2013. The companies established a subsidiary company, P.T. Toray Polytech Jakarta (TPJ), at the group’s site in Tangerang, Indonesia. The new operation includes a production facility with an annual capacity of approximately 20,000 tons, which should start full-scale operations in June 2013.

Asahi Kasei established a subsidiary in Thailand for the manufacture and sale of spunbond nonwovens. The investment enables Asahi Kasei to significantly expand its business in the Asian hygiene market, which is expected to grow significantly in coming years. The new 20,000-ton per year spunbond plant begin production in September 2012.

Fibertex Personal Care is investing $55 million in a state-of-the-art production line in Malaysia. The company says the facility will be in operation within two years and increase the total production capacity by 30% to reach a total capacity of 70,000-tons.

CNC International is adding a 24,000-ton nonwovens production line, the company’s vice president, Karun Sitthiampornphan has announced. Representing an annual capacity of 24,000 tons, the new multibeam, composite line will feature Reicofil IV technology.

The new line, which will be fully operational in late 2014, will be housed in a new production site located near CNC’s existing facility in the Rayong province of Thailand. The new line will enable CNC to make a variety of valued-added spunbond/SMS nonwovens. In addition, the new facility will be equipped with robot packaging, allowing of no hand contact to nonwovens roll goods, enhancing of high-end hygienic application with consistency high quality of nonwovens roll goods.

CNC is owned by the CPPC Group, which falls under the umbrella of Charoen Pokphand Group (CP), the largest agriculture-based conglomerate in Thailand.  Prior to this expansion, CNC operated two lines with a capacity of 15,000 tons per year.

Fitesa brought its new Peruvian spunmelt line on-stream during 2012's fourth quarter, and the unit is now manufacturing commercial product. The Simpsonville, South Carolina-based company's next U.S. capacity addition, announced in 2010 with an initial projected startup in the first half of 2013, is now expected to come on-line either in 2013 or in 2014. In addition, FitesaFiberweb announced it would add two lines in North America when it was first formed in 2009: an SMS bicomponent spunmelt line, which started in 2011; and a second line in 2013-14. That plan has not changed.

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