2015 Nonwovens Sales: $214 million
Akihiro Tachibana, general manager, nonwoven fabrics division
Spunbond, meltblown, needlepunch and thermal bond
Tafnel, Synetx, Syntex Nano
Coverstock, geotextiles, oil absorbing materials, air filters, wipes, agriculture materials, household materials
The latest news from Mitsui Chemicals is the addition of 6000 tons of spunbond nonwovens at its Sunrex facility in Yokkaichi, Japan. The company announced the expansion in June 2016 saying it supports growth in the baby diaper market in Japan and throughout Asia.
The new line, which is expected to be complete by the end of next year, will feature proprietary technology to make premium spunbond nonwovens. The nonwovens made on this new line will offer excellent flexibility and expandability accompanied by superior comfort. These attributes will help Mitsui expand its role in premium diaper markets.
According to executives, Mitsui’s mid-term plan is to position its healthcare business as a targeted business domain and the nonwovens business is a part of that segment. Expansion into the Asian diaper markets is considered a significant part of this plan.
This expansion follows a similar project, announced in mid-2015, to add a 15,000-ton-line in Japan. This new line is currently coming onstream in Mitsui’s Nagoya facility. Like the Sunrex investment, this new line is responding to growth in the Asian baby diaper market.
Together these two investments will bring Mitsui’s Japanese capacity from 49,000 tons to 70,000 tons.
Outside of Japan, Mitsui operates spunbond and spunmelt facilities in Thailand and China.
The Chinese operation, which currently contains one line capable of making 15,000 tons of nonwovens per year, opened up shop in 2014 in Tianjin after originally being announced in 2011. Meanwhile, the Thai operation, which was established in 2002, can make 30,000 tons of nonwovens on two lines.
Mitsui also makes 1000 tons of meltblown nonwovens per year. These nonwovens range from 300-600 nm and are largely used in filter cartridges.