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The top companies in the Japanese nonwovens industry.


In The Japanese Nonwovens Industry

In 1988, total Japanese nonwovens production amounted to 132,000 tons (about 2.2 billion sq. meters), showing an increase of 6.9% from the previous year. The production, which is still on the increase, should reach 140 thousand tons in 1989. Specifically, thermal bonded, spunbonded and melt blown nonwovens are expected to increase production rates by approximately 20%, 10% and 10% respectively.

There are now more than 80 manufacturers of nonwovens in Japan. With roll and processed goods importers added, the total number of nonwovens traders exceeds 100. Of the 80 manufacturers, there are 11 that manufacture filament nonwovens such as spunbonded and melt blown (although some manufacturers are also engaged in staple nonwovens), while all others manufacture staple nonwovens.

1 Asahi Chemical Industry

1-2-6 Dojimahama Kita-ku, Osaka; 06-347-3111 Worldwide Nonwovens Sales: 12 billion yen ($86 million) Corporate Sales: 817.8 billion yen Processes: Spunbonded (polyester, nylon, polypropylene); Melt Blown (polyester, polypropylene, PPS); Spunlaced (polyester, nylon) Plants: Moriyama (spunbonded, 13-15 tons a day capacity); Nobeoka (spunbonded, 4 tons/day polyester and polypropylene, 7.5 tons/day cupra), melt blown pilot line, spunlaced pilot line Brand Names: Eltas (spunbonded), Luxer (spunbonded), Bemliese (spunbonded), Microweb (melt blown), Flonte (spunlaced), Coldon (spunlaced) Notes: Asahi Chemical Industry, the largest spunbonded nonwovens manufacturer in Japan with its "Eltas" and "Bemliese" nonwovens, recently successfully started production of new types of nonwovens, such as flash spinning ("Luxer"), melt blown ("Microweb") and spunlaced ("Flonte," "Coldon") nonwovens.

A polyester spunbonded nonwoven fabric is also being developed, though not shown in the above table. This nonwoven fabric, having thermocontraction and thermosetting properties, is excellent in "after-processibility."

Luxer, which is competitive with "Tyvek," is the first flash spun nonwoven fabric produced in Japan. It remains in the pilot plant stage. Flonte and Coldon are nonwovens made of ultra-fine fabrics in the 0.15 to 0.5 denier range. Because such ultra-fine fabrics are not suitable to be carded or to air laid processes, a web is formed by means of a method of paper making and then subjected to a waterjet.

Asahi is expected to increase its Eltas polypropylene spunbonded nonwovens production to 18 tons a day in 1990 and to introduce, in 1991, a new spunbonded plant (10 tons a day) usable for polypropylene and polyester.

Asahi Chemical has a large share in the fields of packaging materials, various base cloths, medical gauze and wipes for use in clean rooms.

2 Japan Vilene

2-16-2 Sotokanda Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; 03-258-3333 Worldwide Nonwovens Sales: 50.8 billion yen ($365 million, 1988 fiscal; includes converted goods as well as roll goods); 43.7 billion yen ($313 million, 1987 fiscal) Processes: Resin bonded, needlepunched, Spunbonded, Wet Laid Plants: Shiga, Tokyo (16 million sq. meters month) Notes: Although the main business of Japan Vilene is the production of nonwovens, the company is also engaged in a small amount of sales of other products. Since the company aims at selling value-added products, processed nonwovens products have a large ratio in the total sales.

Japan Vilene, which produced 157 million sq. meters of nonwovens in 1987 and 174 million sq. meters in 1988, sells "Cumulass" glass-fiber paper (wet laid nonwoven). Cumulass is produced, at a production ability of 100 tons a day, by Cumulass, a subsidiary of Japan Vilene. Japan Lutravil, a joint corporation of Japan Vilene, Dainippon Ink & Chemicals and Carl Freudenberg, West Germany, imports and sells spunbonded nonwoven fabrics. Further, Japan Vilene has associate companies in Taiwan, Korea, the U.S. and Hong Kong.

In Japan, Japan Vilene has the highest market share in apparel interlining, apparel insulation material, air filters, automobile ceiling materials and many other products. The company has been increasing its production capability and expects to have a capacity of 20 million sq. meters a month by March, 1991.

3 Unitika

4-1-3 Kyutaromachi Chuo-ku, Osaka; 06-281-5361 Worldwide Nonwovens Sales: 7 billion yen ($50 million) Corporate Sales: 249.8 billion yen ($1.8 billion) Processes: Spunbonded (polyester, 27 tons/day; nylon, 5 tons/day; polyester/polyethylene bicomponent, 5 tons/day) Plant: Okazaki Notes: Unitika is second only to Asahi as a spunbonded nonwovens manufacturer and has the largest scale of polyester spunbonded nonwoven production. The company occupies the largest share in agricultural material and carpet base markets.

The polyester/polyethylene bicomponent fiber consists of a core using polyester and a sheath using LDPE, having a melting point of 125 to 128 [degrees] C. The web, which is formed by spinning, is bonded by calendering. This kind of spunbonded nonwoven is used in packing materials expected to have a heat sealing property.

4 Kuraray

1-12-39 Umeda Kita-ku, Osaka; 06-348-2240 Worldwide Nonwovens Sales: 7 billion yen ($50 million) Corporate sales: 211.1 billion yen ($1.5 billion); roll goods and processed goods respectively occupy 45-50% and 50-55% Processes: Resin Bonded, Spunlaced, Thermal Bonded, Melt Blown Plants: Okayama (19.2 million sq. meters a month of resin bonded, spunlaced and thermal bonded); Kurashiki (400 tons a year of melt blown polypropylene, polyester and nylon) Notes: Kuraray's production of nonwovens amounts to 210 million sq. meters, 65-70% of which is marketed as roll goods. Its nonwovens are used primarily in the disposables market (80%), with the other 20% in the durables market. Wipes and coverstock make up a large share of the disposable products market. Since Kuraray is strong in disposables, light nonwovens are produced in large quantities. The company has planned an expansion, increasing production from 19.2 million sq. meters a month to 23.3 million sq. meters a month in February, 1990.

The company, which started the production of melt blown nonwovens in April, 1989, is scheduled to start the production of spunlaced nonwovens utilizing the high pressure method technology. In addition, the production of air laid pulp and needlepunched products is entrusted to outside manufacturers.

Kuraray aims at attaining sales of 10 billion yen in 1990 by expanding its equipment and starting the sale of melt blown nonwovens, spunlaced nonwovens and air laid pulp. In 1990, however, the sales will certainly exceed this amount, as sales for 1989 are expected to be over 9 billion yen.

5 Mitsui Petrochemical

3-2-5 Kasumigaseki Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; 03-580-3111 Worldwide Nonwovens Sales: 3.5 billion yen ($25 million) Corporate sales: 262.2 billion yen ($1.9 billion) Process: Spunbonded (PP, 12.5 tons a day) Plant: Yokkaichi Notes: Mitsui Petrochemical provides two kinds of polypropylene spunbonded nonwovens under trade names "Tafnel" (100-800 grams sq. meter) and "Syntex" (12-100 grams sq. meter). Tafnel finds its main use in the fields of civil engineering sheets and oil absorbers, having a large share in the market. Syntex is a new product,

started in 1987, which is available as the lightest spunbonded nonwoven at 12 grams sq. meter. Syntex has developed in the fields of packing material, agricultural material and coverstock. Electretized Syntex, Syntex-El, has found application as the filter material of air cleaners.

Mitsui Petrochemical, having much experience in the field of geotextiles, is a leading manufacturer in the field.

6 Kao

1-14-10 Kayabocho Nihonbashi Chuo-ku, Tokyo; 03-660-7211 Gross sales: 521.3 billion yen (baby diapers and sanitary napkins) ($3.7 billion) Corporate sales: 521.3 billion yen Process: Thermal Bonded Production Capacity: 24 million sq. meters month Notes: All of the nonwovens produced are consumed in-house in the coverstock of the baby diapers and sanitary napkins manufactured by the company. Almost all of the coverstocks now used in Japan are thermal bonded nonwovens initiated by Kao. Kao leads in the technology of nonwoven coverstock. The manufacturers of nonwovens and sanitary materials keep their attention always to Kao's new products.
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Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:directory
Date:Sep 1, 1989
Previous Article:The up-and-comers in the U.S. and European nonwovens industry.
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