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Unitika: a cotton and composite conglomerate.

Natural fibers and high technology rank as the major strengths at Unitika, Osaka, Japan, the 23rd largest nonwoven roll goods producer. "Cottoace," the company's 100% cotton spunlaced nonwovens, has been available from the company for several years and has been moved inhouse for the first time.

In the past, Cottoace was produced by Marusan Industrial and then sold by Unitika. To remove the contract manufacturing costs from the process, the company has been planning to bring Cottoace production inhouse for some time. Unitika recently invested nearly $12 million (1.5 billion [yen]) and has opened Cottoace production facilities with a full capacity of 2000 tons/year at its factory in Tarui. Commercial operation at the site began in July, with fabric weights in the range of 30-120 grams sq. meter available. Part of the increased production will target growing demand for Cottoace in wipe applications. For the future, Unitika has plans to bring the production of Cottoace to its full capacity by 1995, with further expansions to build capacity to 10,000 tons by the year 2000.

On the technology front, Unitika has production capacity of 16,900 tons/year of spunbonded nonwovens, producing fabric made from polyester, nylon, polypropylene and polyester/polyethylene bicomponent fibers. Unitika has also studied melt blown nonwoven technology and is aiming to use the technology to produce composites of melt blown and spunbonded nonwovens.

Part of this research and development is being done in cooperation with Tonen Tapyrus, Tokyo, Japan. Investigations are currently underway in the areas of fiber combinations, lamination methods and the technology of making composite nonwovens at the lowest cost. This joint research program for the development of new products and marketing will continue until the end of 1993. For the future, composite nonwovens will be the primary business area under development at Unitika, second only to the Cottoace business.

In the spring of this year, the company introduced the first of the products to come from this composite research. A three dimensional molded mask made of a composite of Cottoace and "Eleves," a polyester/polyethylene bicomponent fiber spunbonded nonwoven, was unveiled for the food factory and medical markets. Heat sealed kind molded to form a solid mask that does not stick to the nose or mouth of the user, the mask allows easier breathing and talking than traditional designs.

Unitika 4-1-3 Kyutaromachi Chuo-ku, Osaka, Japan 06-281-5361

Worldwide Nonwoven Sales: $81 million (10.3 billion [yen])

Corporate Sales: $2.08 billion (264.3 billion [yen])

Key Personnel: Keizo Ishibashi, director of Spunbond Division; Shuzo Takahashi, general manager of Spunbond Processing Technology Department

Plants: Okazaki and Tarui, Japan

Processes: Spunbonded and Spunlaced

Brand Names: Marix, Nyace, Wiwi, Eleves and Cottoace

Major Markets: Agriculture, Carpet Backings, Geotextiles, Cable Wraps, Storing Bags and Wipes
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Title Annotation:International Top 30
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Previous Article:Amoco: two diverse divisions at one company.
Next Article:Kuraray: spunlacing and melt blowing focus.

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