2014 Nonwovens Sales: $167 million
Katsuhiko Hinamoto, general manager, nonwoven fabrics division; Kazuhiko Sanmaido, general manager, spunbond fabric sales; Yasumasa Shii, general manager, Bemliese sales
Moriyama, Japan; Nobeoka, Japan; Thailand
Eltas, Bemliese, Microweb, Smash, Precise
Coverstock, wipes, gauze, packings, white blood corpuscle removing filters
Asahi Kasei produces nonwovens in Japan and Thailand. In Japan, the company produces 26,000 tons of polypropylene-based spunbond nonwovens per year, 5500 tons of PET spunbond per year, 3500 tons of nylon spunbond nonwovens per year, 4000 tons of cupra spunbond nonwovens per year, 2000 tons of compound spunbond nonwovens (trade name: Precise) per year and 200 tons of meltblown nonwovens per year. Asahi Kasei Spunbond Thailand (AKST) has produced 20,000 tons of polypropylene spunbond nonwovens per year on one line since November 2012 is adding another line, capable of making another 20,000 tons of material later this year. A third line is also on Asahi’s radar, although it is still in the planning stage and not expected to be operational until 2017 or 2018.
Asahi Kasei’s nonwovens sales have been increasing since 2014. The product expansion of polypropylene spunbond nonwovens in Thailand has contributed to the increment value of the sales, yet profits have decreased because of the remarkable rise in crude material prices. Exportation of cupra spunbond nonwovens (Bemliese) has largely increased due to the low yen rate effect, and the sales volume has also increased. On the other hand, PET spunbond nonwovens and nylon spunbond nonwovens were confined to level out.
Bemliese is the world’s only continuous-filament cellulose nonwoven fabric, which is primarily used for industrial wipers and medical applications, but is now gaining momentum in the face mask market. The amount of Bemliese exported for face masks has been increasing rapidly in China and Korea since 2013, and the percentage of exports accounts for more than 70% currently. In July, the company announced it will add 1500 tons per year of the material in Japan, which should come onstream in March 2017. At the plants making polypropylene spunbond nonwovens in Japan, the company upgraded the equipment, which increased production capacity by around 10%.