Asahi Kasei Plastics North America Inc. (Fowlerville, MI) is investing $5.5 million to add new production and laboratory compounding lines, as well as peripheral equipment. A company spokesperson told PlasticsToday that overall capacity will be increased by 30%, with the addition of two Coperion ZSK 70-mm twin-screw extruders. The new lab line will be operation by this September, while the production line will be installed in the fall and is expected to by operational by December. The expansion is driven by growing interest in its Leona polyamide (PA) 66 and 66+6I, as well as its Xyron polyphenylene ether (mPPE) engineering plastics.
Asahi Kasei Plastics is also adding six new positions in sales, marketing, and development, in addition to 10 hires to support the manufacturing expansion. This investment follows on a $3 million investment in 2010 to upgrade existing production lines. In 2010, the company celebrated its 10-year anniversary, generating 300% growth in its business since the time it started. Given its continued growth, the company noted that its next capacity increase is currently scheduled for 2012.
The Michigan site is one of the largest Asahi Kasei facilities outside of Japan. The company claims to be in the top 5% of compounders in the U.S. and one of the largest glass-filled polypropylene (PP) compounders in the world.
Asahi Kasei Plastics North America was born out of the January 2000 merger with Thermofil, an automotive-focused specialty compounder founded in 1967. After the deal, the newly combined company was called Asahi Thermofil Inc. The name Asahi Kasei Plastics North America became official Sept. 1, 2005.
Japan-based parent Asahi Kasei Corp. noted in its most recent financial report, looking at the first three quarter of fiscal 2010, that its chemical sales, which includes plastics, were up ¥102.6 billion (22.7%) from a year ago to ¥554.9 billion. Operating income increased by ¥32.1 billion (147.0%) to ¥53.9 billion. In particular, the company said within its polymer products operations, demand recovery in automotive and electronics applications led to increased shipments.