2015 Nonwovens Sales: $212 million
Katsuhiko Hinamoto, general manager, nonwoven fabrics division; Hiroshi Maruo, general manager, spunbond fabric sales; Yasumasa Shii, general manager, spunbond fabric sales; Yasumasa Shii, general manager, Bemliese sales
Moriyama and Nobeoka, Japan; Thailand
Eltas, Bemliese, Microweb, Smash, Precise
Coverstock, wipes, gauze, packagings, white blood corpuscle removing filters
Asahi Kasei has produced nonwovens in Japan and Thailand. In Japan, the company can make 26,000 tons of polypropylene nonwovens, 5500 tons of polyester nonwovens; 3500 tons of nylon spunbond nonwovens, 4000 tons of cupra spunbond nonwovens, 2000 tons of its Precise compound spunbond nonwovens and 200 tons of spunbond nonwovens. Meanwhile, its Thai subsidiary, Asahi Kasei Spunbond Thailand (AKST) has produced polypropylene spunbond nonwovens with an annual capacity of 20,000 tons per year on one line since 2012 and 20,000 tons on a second line since early in 2016.
The second line in Thailand is expected to start contributing to sales this year. For the past couple of years, Asahi’s Japanese operation has been running at full capacity and the company has been relying more on imports from Thailand.
Asahi Kasei is also expanding capacity of its Bemliese nonwovens by 1500 tons per year. The exports of these materials have increased greatly thanks to the low yen rate. The two major uses of Bemliese have traditionally been technical wipes and medical gauze, and its use is growing in face masks. This is being driven by exports to China and Korea.
In meltblown, Asahi makes materials for liquid filters using nanofibers that are 400 nm in diameter, made of polypropylene and nylon. Although the filter business represents a small portion of Asahi’s sales, it is important enough for the company to focus on developing high value added products.