2015 Nonwoven Sales: $137 million
Shigeki Tanaka, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Masakazu Saito, president of Kureha
Tsuruga, Iwakuni and Shiga
Spunbond, needlepunch, resin bonded, spunlaced, thermal bonded and stitch bonded
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Dynac, Breathair
Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunch carpets, hot melt bending sheets, plaster bases
Toyobo makes 12,000 tons of polyester spunbond nonwovens as well as an additional 1500 tons on a pilot plant. Kureha, a subsidiary of Toyobo, makes resin bonded needlepunched, thermal bonded and spunbonded nonwovens with an annual capacity of 7000 tons per year , and You, another subsidiary of the company, has been making needlepunched, spunlaced and stitch bonded nonwovens with a capacity of about 3000 tons per year.
The use of polyester spunbonded nonwovens for automotives has increased mainly driven by growth in North America which offset declines in construction materials in 2015. Toyobo has not yet made PET spunbond nonwovens outside of Japan and instead outsources production to five nonwovens manufacturers abroad. Therefore, sales of spunbond nonwovens exceed capacity.
Growth of spunbond polyester in Japan has been difficult, so growth in the future will depend on exports. Kureha hopes to increase the percentage of exports from 20% to 40%. To achieve this, establishing a production base outside of Japan is being considered. Two main strategies are focusing on exports to the U.S. and working with Chinese OEMs.
Kureha is a large producer of air filters for mobile engines and they make these filters in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and the U.S. Because of filters for engines tending to shift to the paper type of wetlaid nonwovens, the production of filters for engines failed to rise while sales of cabin filter media has increased. Although the business performance of Kureaha Thailand showed favorable trends in automotives, sales have decreased in the U.S.