Nonwovens Industry
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Toyobo


Location: Osaka, Japan

Sales: $141 Million

Description: Key Personnel
Yukio Kawasaki, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Hidemichi Mukunashi, managing director of Kureha

Plants
Tsuruga, Iwakuni, Shiga

Processes
Spunbonded, needlepunched, resin bonded, spunlaced, stitch bonded

Brand Names
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Kurehalock, Dynac

Major Markets
Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, carpeting, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster braces

Operating as three companies, Toyobo, Osaka, Japan, achieved nonwovens sales of $141 million (¥16 billion) last year. Spunbonded nonwovens are produced by Toyobo while its subsidiaries Kureha and Yuho manufacture resin bonded, needlepunched and spunbonded nonwovens and needlepunched spunlaced and stitch bonded materials, respectively. The company discontinued its melt blown operations in September 2001.
 
In terms of capital expansion, Toyobo is currently constructing a new polyester spunbond facility with an annual capacity of 6000 tons, which is scheduled to be complete in October. The new investment brings Toyobo’s total production of polyester spunbonded materials to 14,000 tons per year.  The new site will help relieve undercapacity problems at Toyobo, which reports all of its lines running at full capacity, leaving little room for sales growth. While waiting for the new capacity to come onstream, Toyobo has been importing spunbonded nonwovens made by foreign companies. Last year, Toyobo purchased 1000 tons of the material.
 
Kureha has been targeting the automotive interiors, automotive engine filters and plaster base markets with its nee­dlepunched nonwovens. The subsidiary also produces special spunbonded nonwovens for hot melt bonding. Nylon and polyester are used as polymers for these thin nonwovens, which are sometimes called cobweb sheets. Melt blown nonwovens are often used for hot melt bonding. Therefore, Kureha has been developing them for spunbonded nonwovens for some time.
 
In terms of market development, Toyobo is focusing its attention on the  automotive engine filter market, a move that is in synergy with the growing automotive market in Southeast Asia. Additionally, the company recently announced plans to enter the battery separator market, an area long dominated by rival Japan Vilene, Tokyo, Japan. The company has already begun sample distribution of nonwoven separators for nickel and hydrogen batteries to producers. Nickel and hydrogen batteries are typically used for hybrid electric vehicles, which are expected to grow their share of the world automotives market.

Location: Osaka, Japan

Sales: $125 million

Description: Key Personnel
Yukio Kawasaki, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Hidemichi Mukunashi, managing director of Kureha

Plants
Tsuruga, Iwakuni, Shiga

Processes
Spunbonded, needlepunched, resin bonded, spunlaced, stitch bonded

Brand Names
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Kurehalock, Dynac

Major Markets
Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunched carpets, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster bases

The Toyobo Group, based in Osaka, Japan, includes Kureha which produces resin bonded, needlepunched and spunbonded nonwovens; Yuho, which produces needlepunched, spunlaced and stitchbonded nonwovens, and Toyobo, which produces polyester spunbonded nonwovens.
 
The Toyobo division can now produce 14,000 tons of polyester spunbonded nonwovens, thanks to the completion of a new plant, capable of producing 6000 tons per year in October 2002. This expansion was intended to meet pent-up demand as well as open up new applications for the material. Currently, major markets for Toyobo’s spunbonded nonwovens include geotextiles, roofing sheets and carpet backings. As demand in these applications, which once comprised 80% of total sales of the segment, have been sluggish, new applications include sound control devices, car covers and agriculture and industrial products.
 
Also included in Toyobo’s growth strategy is the development of European and U.S. markets as well as increased exports to China. Kureha has a high marketshare in car interior and filtration and poultice medicines in the domestic market while Toyobo has developed superior nonwovens with excellent modability for car engines to target new areas.

Location: Osaka, Japan

Sales: $133 MILLION

Description: Key Personnel
Yukio Kawasaki, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Hidemichi Mukunashi, managing director of Kureha

Plants: Tsuruga, Iwakuni and Shiga

Processes
Spunbond, needlepunch, resin bonded, spunlaced, stitch bonded

Brand Names
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Kurehalock, Dynac

Major Markets
Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunched carpets, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster bases

Among the nonwovens producers in the Toyobo Group are Kureha and Yuho. Kureha produces resin bonded, needle­punched and spunbonded nonwovens, while Yuho produces needlepunched, spunlaced and stitch bonded nonwovens. Toyobo also produces needlepunched nonwovens.
 
Because many of its products contain added-value properties, sales of Toyobo are considerably higher than they would be at a nonwovens producer of a similar size. Despite these added benefits, Toyobo was not able to maintain its higher price points in 2003 and sales were unable to move upward. Polyester spunbonded nonwovens proved immune to these struggles, however. Production capacity is 24,000 tons per year.
 
Markets showing considerable promise include the automotive interior and engine filtration markets, which are largely targeted by Kureha. Kureha produces nonwovens for air cleaners in Japan, the U.S. and Thailand. Production capacity for this market is believed to be 7.2 million square meters a year in Japan, 4.3 million square meters in the U.S. and 3 million square meters in Thailand.
 
The demand for Kureha-made materials in automotive filtration systems has been strong in Japan. This product has outpaced the growth of the automotives market in the U.S. and Southeast Asia. As for the interior materials of the car, needlepunched nonwovens have been supplied for the carpet in the cabin and trunk areas.
 
Meanwhile, at Toyobo’s Yuho division, key products include spunlaced nonwovens, which are mainly custom-made to customer demands, and needlepunched nonwovens made from glass, carbon and other synthetic fibers. This falls in sync with Toyobo’s core growth strategy—producing unique products not offered by other companies.

Location: Osaka, Japan

Sales: $145 million

Description: Key Personnel
Kazumasa Kayama, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Yukio Kawasaki, president of Kureha

Plants
Tsuruga, Iwakuni and Shiga

Processes
Spunbond, needlepunch, resin bonded, spunlaced, stitchbonded

Brand Names
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Kurehalock, Dynac

Major Markets
Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunched carpets, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster bases

Among the nonwovens producers in the Toyobo Group are Kureha and Yuho. Kureha produces resin bonded, needle­punched and spunbonded nonwovens, while Yuho produces needlepunched, spunlaced and stitchbonded nonwovens. Toyobo itself produces polyester spunbonded nonwovens. In terms of production capacities, Toyobo is in the lead with 14,000 tons of polyester spunbond nonwovens while Kureha manufactures 7000 tons annually and Yuho’s capacity is 3000 tons per year.
 
A 6000-ton-per-year polyester spunbond line added by Toyobo in 2002 is approximately 50% full at this time. Spunbonded nonwovens based on new polymers are being developed on this line as well as existing spunbonded products that are shifting to the use of new types of materials. New polymers for spunbonded fabrics include PBT and polyester elastomer. PBT-based spunbonded materials feature softness and flexibility, according to Toyobo, and are beginning to find application as automotive ceiling materials. Polyester elastomer-based spunbonded nonwovens reportedly offer high elasticity and are being explored for use in diaper applications.
 
Kureha’s activity in automotive interiors and engine filtration reportedly is faring well in Japan and internationally. Overseas output of Kureha’s automotive materials has outpaced domestic production as the company has continued to make efforts to globalize its supply system. Meanwhile, within Japan, a good sign for Toyobo is the initial introduction of these nonwovens by domestic automotive makers as part of cost reduction programs.
 
Because many of its products contain added-value properties, sales of Toyobo are considerably higher than similar-sized nonwovens producers. Despite these added benefits, Toyobo was not able to maintain its higher price points in 2003, and sales were unable to move upward. Polyester spunbonded nonwovens proved immune to these struggles, however. Production capacity is 24,000 tons per year.
 
Markets showing considerable promise include the automotive interior and engine filtration markets, which are largely targeted by Kureha. Kureha produces nonwovens for air cleaners in Japan, the U.S. and Thailand. Nonwovens usage in this market is believed to be 7.2 million square meters a year in Japan, 4.3 million square meters in the U.S. and 3 million square meters in Thailand.
 
The demand for Kureha-made materials in automotive filtration systems has been strong in Japan. This product has outpaced the growth of the automotives market in the U.S. and Southeast Asia. As for the interior materials of the car, needlepunched nonwovens have been supplied for the carpet in the cabin and trunk areas.
 
Meanwhile, at Toyobo’s Yuho division, key products include spunlaced nonwovens, which are mainly custom-made to customer demands, and needlepunched nonwovens made from glass, carbon and other synthetic fibers. This falls in sync with Toyobo’s core growth strategy—producing unique products not offered by other companies.

Location: Osaka, Japan

Sales: $145 million

Description: Key Personnel
Kazumasa Kayama, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Yukio Kawasaki, president of Kureha

Plants
Tsuruga, Iwakuni and Shiga

Processes
Spunbond, needlepunch, resin bonded, spunlaced, thermal bonded, stitchbonded

Brand Names
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Kurehalock, Dynac

Major Markets
Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunched carpets, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster bases

Among the nonwovens producers in the Toyobo Group are Kureha and Yuho. Kureha produces resin bonded, needlepunched, thermal bonded and spunbonded nonwovens, while Yuho produces needlepunched, spunlaced and stitchbonded nonwovens. Toyobo itself produces polyester spunbonded nonwovens. In terms of production capacities, Toyobo is in the lead with 14,000 tons of polyester spunbond nonwovens while Kureha manufactures 7000 tons annually and Yuho’s capacity is 3000 tons per year.
 
While in the past, the three main applications for Toyobo’s polyester spunbonded nonwovens were geotextiles, roofing sheets and carpet backings, steady sales growth has placed automotive materials on this list as well. Spunbonded nonwovens based on new polymers such as PBT and polyester elastomers are being used for novel applications in this field while polyester spunbonds are finding application in automotive headliners because of their softness and flexibility for molding. According to Toyobo, polyester elastomer-based nonwovens offer excellent stretch and are expected to reach full scale sales levels in 2006-2007.

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Sales: $141 million

Description: Key Personnel
Kazumasa Kayama, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Yukio Kawasaki, president of Kureha

Plants
Tsuruga, Iwakuni and Shiga

Processes
Spunbond, needlepunch, resin bonded, spunlaced, thermal bonded, stitchbonded

Brand Names
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Kurehalock, Dynac

Major Markets
Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunched carpets, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster bases


Toyobo produces 14,000 tons of polyester-based spunbonded nonwovens on four lines, two in Iwakuni and two in Tsuruga, Japan. Toyobo is currently streamlining its operation in Iwakuni, which is expected to increase its capacity by 2000 tons by April 2008. The company also produces spunbond nonwovens from polybutylene terephthalate and polyphenylene sulfide. Nonwovens with PBT have moderate stretch properties and the PPS-based materials feature excellent heat resistance.
 
Kureha, an associated company, makes nonwovens via resin bonding, needlepunching, thermal bonding and spunbonding with a capacity of about 7000 tons per year. There are five thermal and resin bonding lines, eight needlepunch lines and four spunbond lines. The spunbond nonwovens made by Kureha are hotmelt sheets used as adhesives in specialty nonwovens, unlike normal spunbond nonwovens, they are thin and lightweight with low density and are used as an adhesive to laminate nonwovens, textile fabrics and knits. Kureha also operates subsidiaries in Taiwan, Thailand and the U.S., where each company makes and sells nonwovens. The American subsidiary produces air filters for mobile engines by making nonwovens and molding the filters. These filters are supplied to American Toyota. Subsidiaries in Taiwan and Thailand produce and sell nonwovens for automotive interiors.
 
Yuho, another associated company of Toyobo, makes needlepunched, spunlaced and stitchbonded nonwovens with a capacity of 3000 tons per year.

Location: TOKYO, JAPAN

Sales: $143 million

Description: Key Personnel
Yuuji Taneda, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Yukio Kawasaki, president of Kureha

Plants
Tsuruga, Iwakuni, Shiga

Brand Names
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Kurehalock, Dynac

Major Markets
Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunch carpets, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster bases

Toyobo upgraded equipment in its Iwakuni, Japan plant in 2008 in a move that increased production capacity of its polyester spunbonded nonwovens from 14,000 to 16,000 tons per year. Additionally, the company developed nonwovens with polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) as the crude materials. Toyobo has been outsourcing production of this materials to a Chinese PET spunbonded maker since spring 2007 and sells this material for the automotives market in China. Since the Japanese auto makers are looking to China for the same quality as Japanese-made products, Toyobo has been providing Chinese spunbond makers with technical guidance and sells the nonwovens of identical quality to Japanese products under the Toyobo brand name.
 
Kureha, Toyobo’s subsidiary, produces resin bonded, needlepunched, thermal bonded and spunbonded nonwovens with a capacity of about 7000 tons per year, and Yuho, another subsidiary, produces needlepunched, spunlaced and stitchbonded nonwovens with a capacity of about 3000 tons per year.
 
Kureha is good at automotive filter production and has developed the suction filter of a fuel pump as a new application for nonwovens. Although the mesh textile fabrics of the nylon fibers are used for the suction filter of the fuel pump, Kureha has developed a new filter medium made of spunbonded nonwovens or thermal bonded nonwovens to enable a longer filter life and enhance filtration efficiency. More and more automobiles are using this product.
 
Yuho also performs the assembling of the honeycomb filter to be equipped to the filter unit for building an air conditioning or solvent recovery device, while producing nonwovens. With a reinforcement of the environmental regulation, the demand for the solvent recovery device has been getting higher and the demand for honeycomb filters has also been increasing.


Location: TOKYO, JAPAN


Sales: $163 Million


Description: Key Personnel
Yuuji Taneda, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Yukio Kawasaki, president of Kureha

Plants

Tsuruga, Iwakuni, Shiga

Brand Names

Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Kurehalock, Dynac

Major Markets

Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunch carpets, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster bases

Toyobo produces 14,000 tons of PET spunbond nonwovens per year and its OEM production has been entrusted to a Chinese PET spunbonded nonwovens maker since spring 2007 for the manufacture of automotive materials. Additionally, Kureha, Toyobo’s subsidiary, produces resin bonded, needlepunched, thermal bonded and spunbond nonwovens with a capacity of about 7000 tons per year. Its other subsidiary Yuho makes needlepunched, spunlaced and stitchbonded nonwovens with a capacity of 3000 tons per year.

As for the PET spunbonded nonwovens of Toyobo, about 30-40% of this material targets the automotives business and Kureha’s business is about 60% related to automotives, meaning that Toyobo is quite dependent on this market. As this market has undergone significant decreases so has Toyobo’s income.

That said, Toyobo has defended itself by improving its nonwoven products. The company’s policy is to focus on the development of added-value properties to raise the processing percentage of the raw materials by strengthening the cooperation with the group enterprises. In addition, Toyobo intends to move forward with the development of new applications for spunbonded nonwovens by integrating new polymers into its processes. This has opened up new applications, namely nonwovens with stretch properties which have already been developed and mass production should be underway by the end of 2009. Furthermore, Toyobo’s strategy of enhancing manufacturing efficiency and quality, has been achieved by upgrading older equipment and facilities. Meanwhile, the crude oil prices and business fluctuations have been intensive in the market.

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Sales: $144 million

Description: Personnel
Yukio Kawasaki, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Akio Oda, president of Kureha

Plants
Tsuruga, Iwakuni, Shiga, Japan

Processes
Spunbond, needlepunch, resin bonded, spunlaced, thermal bonded, stitch bonded

Brand Names
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Kurehalock, Dynac

Markets
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.



Osaka, Japan
www.toyobo.co.jp
2011 Nonwovens Sales: $164 million

Key Personnel: Shigeki Tanaka, general manager of spunbond division; Akio Oda, president

Plants: Tsuruga, Iwakuni and Shiga, Japan

Processes: Spunbond, needlepunch, resin bonded, spunlaced, thermal bonded, stitch bonded

Brands: Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Dynac

Major Markets: Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunch carpets, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster bases

Production capacity of polyester spunbond nonwovens at Toyobo is 12,000 tons per year. Kureha, a subsidiary of Toyobo, produces resin bonded, needlepunch, thermal bonded and spunbond nonwovens with a capacity of 7,000 tons per year. Yuho, also a subsidiary of Toyobo, has made needlepunched, spunlaced and stitch bonded nonwovens with a capacity of about 3,000 tons per year.

Polyester spunbond nonwovens made by Toyobo are largely sold for automotive applications. Sales have been mostly flat during the last year despite the recovery seen during the second half.

Kureha also sells a large amount of nonwovens for automotives and has been affected by a reduction in domestic demand caused by an increase in overseas production. This has led Kureha to focus on new product development.

One area of success has been in automotive filters, a product Kureha makes in both Japan and Thailand, which aids in supply to China. Additionally, the company plans to begin manufacturing of automotive filter material in Taiwan by the end of 2012, which will also supply the Chinese market.
Osaka, Japan
www.toyobo.co.jp
2012 Nonwovens Sales: $129 million
 
Key Personnel: Shigeki Tanak, general manager, spunbond division; Akio Oda, president of Kureha
 
Plants: Tsuruga, Iwakini, Shiga
 
Processes: Spunbond, needlepunch, resin bonded, thermal bonded, spunlaced, stitch bonded
 
Major Markets: Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunch carpets, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster bases
 
Production capacity of Toyobo is 12,000 tons per years. Kureha is a subsidiary of Toyobo and has a capacity of about 7000 tons per year within resin bonded, needlepunch, thermal bonded and spunbond technologies. Another subsidiary, Yuho, makes needlepunched, spunlaced and stitchbonded nonwovens with a capacity of 3000 tons per year.
 
Although the polyester spunbond nonwovens made by Toyobo failed to raise sales in 2012, sales in this segment are increasing in 2013 due to the fallout from the great earthquake in east Japan. This has increased demand for materials used in the reconstruction of the disaster area, namely geotextile materials which are produced by Toyobo.
 
Meanwhile, Kureha is a large producer of air filter material for mobile engines and is producing the filters in Japan and Thailand. To meet Chinese demand, the company exports products from Kureha Thailand, which is also meeting increasing demand for products domestically.
 
To help Kureha meet demand, both within Thailand and abroad, the company updated its facilities in June 2013. Other growth areas include Indonesia.
 
In new product news, Toyobo has developed a cushion material out of polyester nonwovens, which are being sold under the trade name Breathair as seat cushioning in trains and mattresses. Breathair is both breathable and durable and can be recycled without releasing harmful gases. Toyobo will next expand production of these materials to Europe where demand for environmentally sound and recyclable products is strong. A new facility able to make 1000 tons of the material per year is currently beginning operation.