Mitsubishi Rayon to acquire SGL Group carbon fiber plant in U.S.

Japan’s Mitsubishi Rayon Corp. (MRC) has decided to acquire SGL Carbon Fibers LLC (Evanston, WY), the carbon fiber production base of Germany’s SGL Group, in order to expand its carbon fibers business in the North American market. MRC’s 100% subsidiary Mitsubishi Rayon Carbon Fiber and Composites (MRCFAC; Irvine, CA) plans to acquire all the shares of the fiber production company from its present parent company SGL Technologies North America, incorporating it into MRCFAC, by the beginning of April, 2017.

Mitsubishi Rayon’s acquisition of the SGL carbon fiber plant in Evanston, Wyoming, will give it the extra capacity it needs to service growing markets in North America.

MRC decided to acquire SCF to increase its carbon fiber capacity in order to satisfy growing demand for large tow carbon fiber. This addition will increase MRC’s carbon fiber production capacity by an annual 1,000 tonnes. Combined with the expansion of capacity of regular-tow carbon fiber at MRCFAC’s plant in Sacrament, CA, commercial operation of which will commence shortly, and the expansion of production capacity at MRC’s Otake Production Center in Japan scheduled in 2017, MRC’s overall carbon fiber production capacity will increase from 10,100 tonnes per year to 14,300 tonnes by the end of 2017.

Additionally, MRC will consider adding further carbon fiber and intermediate material production facilities to the SCF site in Wyoming based on the requirements and growth of the carbon fiber market.

MRC has developed a unique high-performance, large-tow carbon fiber roving that supports high productivity in the molding of large components whilst exhibiting the physical and quality properties equivalent to regular-tow carbon fibers. Large tow typically refers to carbon fiber rovings that contain on the order of 48,000 to 320,000 filaments or more. MRC has been developing applications for the product in fields such as the aerospace industry and compressed gas tanks since the launch of operation in its Otake Production Center in July 2011.

Given the increasing demand for large tow products for use in wind turbine blades in particular, MRC has been strengthening its activities in this area, having founded a joint venture for manufacturing and distributing carbon fiber composite laminates for window turbine blades in October last year. Furthermore, interest in high-performance large tow products for use in lightweighting materials for automobiles is also increasing. As a result, operating rates of MRC’s production facilities have remained high.

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