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SMC Image: DIC Kako

Mitsui Chemicals Augments SMC Business

Acquisition of DIC Kako’s sheet molding compound operations complements Mitsui’s presence in automotive plastics business.

Japan Composite Co. Ltd. (owned 65% by Mitsui Chemicals Inc. and 35% by Nippon Shokubai Co. Ltd.) has agreed to acquire the sheet molding compound (SMC) and molding operations of DIC Kako Inc. The two companies signed the contract for the deal on August 3, 2020. The business acquired will be known as JC Kako Co. Ltd. and is due to begin operating on December 1, 2020.

A compound of unsaturated polyester resin mixed with filler and glass fiber before being rolled into sheets, SMC offers strength, and a resistance to hot and cold water means that it can be used in a range of applications, including automobiles and household amenities such as kitchens, toilets, and baths.

The expansion in demand for housing renovation has given rise to a growing need for high-performance SMC offering a premium design finish. In the automotive sector, meanwhile, the shift to electric vehicles and the need to reduce vehicle weight is driving rising demand for structural parts and other exterior applications that take advantage of SMC's outstanding heat resistance, strength, and dimensional stability. Mitsui Chemicals is also a major player in polypropylene-based thermoplastic composites for automotive applications, including long-fiber-reinforced compounds.

The incorporation of DIC Kako’s SMC business will make for a dual-plant setup between Shimizu and Narita, boosting Japan Composite’s SMC production capacity by 70% to 33,000 tonnes/year for a more stable, robust supply structure.

In addition, with the resultant integrated supply chain spanning the unsaturated polyester resin used as a raw material through to the SMC and its molding process, this will further enhance Japan Composite’s ability to offer solutions to customers.

In view of strengthening the Mitsui Chemicals Group’s Mobility Solutions strategy, Japan Composite will seek to enhance the global expansion of mobility applications for the fiber-reinforced composite material that is SMC by tapping into the group’s various materials, technologies, molds and prototype support functions.

SMC is a molding compound sheet consisting of a resin paste that, upon forming through the mixing of unsaturated polyester resin with fillers and additives, is impregnated with glass fibers before being rolled into a sheet a few millimeters thick. Press-molded items made of SMC are strong and highly resistant to hot water and chemicals while also offering superior electrical characteristics. They are used in a variety of applications, including household amenities, septic tanks, automobiles and electrical components. In recent years, Japan Composite has developed SMC impregnated with carbon fiber, enabling an even wider range of solutions to be offered.

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