2013 Nonwovens Sales: $129 million
Shigeki Tanaka, general manager, spunbond division; Akio Oda, president of Kureha
Tsuruga, Iwakuni, Shiga
Spunbond, needlepunch, resin bonded, spunlace, thermal bonded, stitch bonded
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Dynac
Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunch carpets, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster bases
Installation of a new pilot line, capable of making 1,500 tons of spunbond polyester material per year is currently underway. When complete the new line will enable Toyobo, which already operates a 12,000-ton PET spunbond line, to improve its focus on new product development. In 2013, the company reported increased sales of this technology, owing to favorable conditions in engineering, construction and automotive markets.
Within automotives, Toyobo, sources spunbond polyester from two Chinese companies, which it then sells in the Chinese market. The company is reportedly hoping to enter the North American market soon either with a similar outsourcing setup or through its own manufacturing assets.
According to the company, demand for civil engineering products have grown in Japan following the great earthquake in 2011. As repairs continue the company has seen increased need for geotextile products.
Meanwhile, Kureha, Toyobo’s subsidiary, can make resin bonded, neeldepunched, thermal bonded and spunbondned materials, all with a capacity of 7000 tons per year, as well as needlepunched, spunlaced and stitchbonded nonwovens with a capacity of 3,000 tons per year.
Kureha is a large producer of air filters for mobile engines and has made filters in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan and may soon establish a production base in India possibly with its current Indian partner, Arvind. Kureha already operates a joint venture with Arvind in India making needlepunch nonwovens for bag filters. Established in June 2014 and capable of making 1,500 tons of material, the joint venture relies on Kureha’s technical guidance and Arvind’s manufacturing assets.