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Glass fiber nonwovens in Japan.

Glass Fiber Nonwovens In Japan

Glass fiber paper, made of glass fibers entangled by papermaking methods, is technicaly a wet laid nonwoven fabric. The production of glass fiber paper in Japan, having shown annual growth of 6-8% in recent years, was 5500 tons in 1988. In addition, in 1988 Japan imported glass fiber paper from the U.S. for use as a filter material, satisfying the total demand of 6150 tons for glass fiber paper.

Japanese manufacturers and their production capacity are given in Table 1. Currently in Japan there are six manufacturers engaged in the production of glass paper fiber. Oribest is the largest manufacturer in terms of volume. Excluding Japan Vilene, which started production in 1986, all have produced glass fiber paper for more than 10 years.

Classifications By Use

The main use of glass fiber nonwovens is in flooring, printed-circuit boards, battery electrode separators, filters and roofing. The most dominant use is in the field of flooring, where it is used for the backing of vinyl flooring mats and carpet tiles. Since the substitution of glass fiber for asbestos has been almost fully completed in vinyl mat backing, a further increase in demand in this market cannot be expected. However, an increasing demand for carpet tiles will further increase the use of glass fiber non-wovens for flooring. In this field, Oribest and Mitsubishi Paper Mills are leading manufacturers.

The demand in the field of printed-circuit board is steadily growing and will continue to increase at an annual rate of about 20%. Honshu Paper and Japan Vilene are leaders in this field.

Demand for glass fiber nonwovens in the field of battery electrode separators is also increasing at an annual rate of about 20%. Such a high growth rate is expected to continue, with production being led by Nippon Muki and Nippon Sheet Glass.

Manufacturer Production Capacity (tons/year)
Oribest 2400
Mitsubishi Paper Mills 1440
Honshu Paper 1200
Japan Vilene 1200
Nippon Sheet Glass 600
Nippon Muki 600
Total 7440

In the field of filters, the glass fiber paper imported from the U.S. is used mainly in UEPA/ULPA and middle class filters. Though Nippon Muki and Nippon Sheet Glass also supply glass fiber paper for use in the middle class filters, their production level remains low. However, the demand in the field of filters is on the upward trend, implying a possible annual growth of about 15%.

In roofing, the demand for glass fiber nonwovens is decreasing since the conventional roofing method using asphalt is being replaced by a new method.

Future growth in the demand for glass fiber paper in Japan is expected to remain at 7-9% annually for a while, slightly exceeding an expected growth rate of the production. The difference between the supply and dmenad will be compensated by the imports, which will also continue to expand.
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Title Annotation:Far East Report
Author:Ohmura, Kin
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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