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Spunbonded nonwovens in Japan.

Spunbonded Nonwovens In Japan

There are currently 10 Japanese manufacturers of spunbonded nonwovens, as seen in Table 1. Asahi Chemical's polyethylene and polypropylene spunbonded nonwovens are by means of the flash spinning process. Nippon Nonwoven Fabric and Idemitsu Petro-chemical utilize the Reifenhauser "Reicofil" process. Unitika uses bicomponent fibers in manufacturing polyester/polyethylene spunbonded nonwovens.

The total production capacity of the Japanese spunbonded manufacturers, which is currently 13903 tons a day (Figure 1), is expected to increase to 15501 tons a day by the end of the year, 210.1 tons a day by the end of 1991 and 239.6 tons a day by the end of 1992 if the facility expansions planned by six major manufacturers (see Table 1) proceed as scheduled. This final figure means that by the end of 1992 the production capacity of the Japanese spunbonded industry will have increased 72% from current levels. [Tabular Data Omitted]

The scheduled expansions are, as classified by polymers to be used, remarkable in the field of polypropylene (Figure 2). It is, however, to be noticed that there is a tendency to introduce multi-functioning facilities capable of producing spunbonded nonwovens made of various kinds of materials such as polypropylene, polyester and polyethylene. Such facilities have been developed by Asahi Chemical, Unitika, Toyobo and Toray. Most of these will be on-stream by 1992.

Production and Applications

Although the annual growth rate of production of Japanese spunbondeds is about 10% on the basis of weight, the figure decreases to 6-7% if based on area; this reflects a tendency towards heavier weight spunbondeds. However, polypropylene spunbondeds, which have shown the highest growth rates of 25-30% recently, have tended towards lighter weight fabrics because of an increasing demand for coverstock and other newer end uses made from the thin polypropylene spunbonded nonwovens recently developed.

From the viewpoint of production capacity, polyester nonwovens show the greatest output, holding 50% of total spunbonded utilization inthe country. Polypropylene spunbondeds have increased their share from 13% in 1985 to 22% last year, while the share of nylon spunbonded nonwovens has decreased from 18% in 1985 to 12% last year (Figure 2).

Cupra and nylon spunbondeds do not show any remarkable variation. Polyethylene spunbondeds, whose production has remained very low in Japan, are expected to increase rapidly in the near future. Asahi Chemical's "Luxer," made by its flash spinning process, is finding increased acceptance in the fields of house wrap, disposable clothing and wrapping materials and is appearing as a powerful rival to DuPont's "Tyvek."

Spunbonded nonwovens, having a range of end uses, are increasing their in-roads into almost every one of their applications. Their strongest performance, however, has been in daily commodities, where the annual growth rate is about 15% (Figure 3).

The Japanese spunbonded nonwovens, which are now in a fairly favorable state, will grow to a demand of 60,000 tons in 1995 if the current 10% growth rate continues as expected. On the other hand, the total annual production capacity is expected to be about 86,000 tons at this time. This overcapacity tendency suggests a positive attitude towards the domestic and export markets by Japanese manufacturers.



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Title Annotation:Far East Report
Author:Ohmura, Kin
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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