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Lightweight thermoplastic composite expansion gets green light in Korea

The Hanwha Azdel division (Fenton, MI) of Hanwha L&C Co., Ltd. (Seoul, South Korea) plans a major capacity expansion for its SuperLite lightweight reinforced thermoplastic (LWRT) composite product line with a $20 million investment that will be used to construct a new plant in Bugang, South Korea.

The Hanwha Azdel division (Fenton, MI) of Hanwha L&C Co., Ltd. (Seoul, South Korea) plans a major capacity expansion for its SuperLite lightweight reinforced thermoplastic (LWRT) composite product line with a $20 million investment that will be used to construct a new plant in Bugang, South Korea.

Scheduled to come on stream in 2014, the facility will be located inside Hanwha L&C's existing Bugang Plant No. 2, home to the company's existing glass-mat thermoplastic (GMT) composite production plant. Both facilities will service global automotive, heavy-truck, recreational-vehicle, and industrial customers with production operations in Asia.

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Lightweight reinforced thermoplastic composites range in weight from 600 to 2000 g/m2

LWRT composites are lower density forms of traditional GMT composites with a higher fiber-volume fraction (ratio of reinforcement to resin) that are shaped by low-pressure thermostamping and are often faced with fabric or film skins. They significantly reduce component mass and costs and improve acoustical damping versus traditional GMT and are key product lines for Hanwha Azdel.

According to Bill Mills, director-Global Sales & Marketing for Hanwha Azdel, "This investment is yet another milestone toward our goal of fully globalizing SuperLite LWRT, a patented technology we introduced in 1999 and that revolutionized how automakers produced composite panels ranging from headliners to underbody shields. These light but tough composite materials are important solutions for more sustainable mobility and are also an important part of Hanwha Azdel's global business strategy."

"As global demand increased for these materials, we made the strategic investment decision to support our global LWRT customers by expanding production capacity in order to provide a consistent regional supply of lightweight thermoplastic composite materials in this part of the globe." Mills adds that global demand for composites is projected to rise 7-10% annually through the year 2020.

Hanwha L&C specializes in producing high-performance materials used in the automotive, solar, and electronics industries with annual sales of $1.4-billion and more than 2,000 employees globally. The company has four divisions: Automotive Parts, Electronic and Solar Materials, Film and Sheet, and Building Materials. A sister division of Hanwha Azdel is Hanwha L&C Alabama LLC, a Tier 1 molder of automotive parts in GMT and expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam. The company was established in 2005 and is located in Opelika, AL.

In the autumn of 2011, Hanwha L&C opened its new Hanwha L&C Global Automotive Business Center in Fenton, MI, the first global headquarters Hanwha has established outside of South Korea. This facility serves as headquarters for the Automotive Division, a core business of Hanwha L&C, as well as a research and development center for composites developments. —[email protected]

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