Dutch firm Royal DSM N.V. has inaugurated its new Akulon polyamide (PA) 6 plant at Jiangyin in the Jiangsu province of China, with capacity targeting the high-end food-packaging market in Asia. The company says the plant cost “tens of millions of dollars”, with construction originally announced two years ago in September 2006. Jos Goessens, president of DSM Engineering Plastics, along with communist government officials and guests, attended an opening ceremony, with the plant billed as a key plank in DSM’s Vision 2010 platform, which among other things, targets expansion in “key growth countries.” The company has raised its 2010 Chinese sales target from $1 billion to $1.5 billion, with the first Akulon polymerization plant intended to support increasing regional demand. The new facility’s design allows for additional capacity expansions, and DSM says it is the only site in China to produce the entire PA6 chain, including caprolactam, polymer, and compounded products.
In addition to regional headquarters in Shanghai, DSM has a manufacturing presence in Jiangyin going back 10 years, with output boosted in the face of growing Asian demand, including a November 2007 announcement to expand engineering plastics compounding capacity by 50%. That increase was expected to be operational by the end of 2008. The company also operates a Regional Development & Support Center at the Jiangyin site.
According to a Frost & Sullivan report on the Chinese engineering thermoplastic (ETP) market, ETP consumption grew 30% in 2007, with PA claiming a 21% market share, at 165,000 tons. Within nylon, PA6 has a 65% share. At K 2004, competitor Rhodia announced plans for a production plant for PA6, 66, and 66/6 polyamides, as well as alloys. Rhodia expects the Chinese polyamides market to expand more than 20% annually, with its 40,000 tonnes/yr factory helping satisfy that demand. Company-wide, Rhodia has 22 sites and more than 3000 employees in the Asia-Pacific region, with the area accounting for 27% of net sales.