2016 Nonwovens Sales: $125 million
Shigeki Tanaka, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Masakazu Saito, president of Kureha
Tsuruga, Iwakuni and Shiga, Japan
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. Kureha, a subsidiary of Toyobo, makes resin bonded needlepunched, thermal bonded and spunbonded nonwovens, each with an annual capacity of 7000 tons per year, and Yuho, another subsidiary of the company, has been making needlepunched, spunlaced and stitch bonded nonwovens with a capacity of about 3000 tons per year.
The three major applications for polyester-based spunbond nonwovens are automotives, engineering and construction. The use of the materials in automotives is expanding while it is retracting in engineering and construction. Toyobo’s nonwovens are used in various automotive parts and its business is growing particularly strongly in China and North America. Business is so strong in North America, in fact, the company is considering establishing a production base there—either with another company or alone.
Sales of Kureha’s main automotive filters have been decreasing as the market is shifting from drylaid to wetlaid nonwovens. However, the use of Kureha’s filters in every other market is growing quickly, not just in Japan, but also in Thailand and the U.S., and the company is developing new applications for its filter media.