2014 Nonwovens Sales: $157 million
Kensaku Takahashi, general manager, nonwoven fabrics division
Japan, China, Thailand
Spunbond, meltblown, needlepunch, thermal bonded
Tafnel, Syntex, Syntex Nano
Coverstock, geotextiles, oil absorbing materials, air filters, wipes, agricultural materials, household materials
Mitsui Chemicals produces polypropylene spunbond nonwovens in three countries—Japan where it produces 49,000 tons per year on six lines; Thailand with 30,000 tons on two lines; and China where it makes 15,000 tons a year ion one line. All told Mitsui’s global spunbond capacity is currently 94,000 tons/year.
Mitsui Chemicals’ production capacity of meltblown nonwovens is 1000 tons/year.
Sales were boosted in 2014 by Mitsui’s latest investment, a line making polypropylene spunbond nonwovens, which began operating in December 2013. However, despite the increase in sales, the company has not reached its targeted profit because of the increasing prices of crude materials due to the low yen rate.
About 80% of Mitsui’s nonwoven products are used for diapers, with the high quality polypropylene spunbond nonwovens being used in Japan but Mitsui is starting to see greater demand for high quality polypropylene spunbond in China as there has been demand for high functioning diapers. Because of this, Mitsui Chemicals plans to improve its equipment in China to produce high quality nonwovens. Although it’s planning to start a new line for polypropylene spunbond in 2017, the company has not yet decided which country to set up the industrial plant.
Mitsui’s expansion strategy, outside of diapers, includes medical materials, industrial materials and agricultural materials. In the medical sector, it is going to strengthen its gowns for surgery with spunbond or meltblown nonwovens—and in the industrial materials sector, filters by nanofiber nonwovens will be strengthened. Mitsui Chemicals has also introduced Syntex Nano, meltblown nanofiber nonwovens, for liquid filters.