Kolon Industries Inc., a core subsidiary of Kolon Group, will ramp up production of aramid, which is a high-tech industrial textile material.
The company announced that it plans to expand the capacity of its Gumi plant in North Gyeongsang Province by 50 percent by the first quarter of 2020. The plant produces aramid products that are sold under the Heracron brand. When the expansion is completed, the annual capacity of the Gumi plant will increase from the current 5,000 tons to 7,500 tons.
"The expansion is designed to respond quickly to the burgeoning demand from major global manufacturers of industrial rubber stiffeners, hybrid tire cords and optical fibers, and it’s also aimed to enter the North American market," a company official said. The company is investing about 20 billion won (US$18 million) for the expansion.
Aramid is a high-strength, high-resilience fiber with heat resistance to above 500 degrees Celsius and low cutability. Also, its tensile strength is five times stronger than steel of the same weight. It is widely used as a special material in body armor, protective clothing, fiber-optic cables, tire armature and friction materials (ex. brake pads). The company began basic research on para-based aramids in 1979, established its production plant in 2005, and advanced into the aramid business under the brand name of Heracron. After 2015, the company added North America as its sales target region after focusing on sales in Asia and Europe.
The size of the global aramid market this year is estimated to be around 70 thousand tons based on the supply rate, and it’s expected to grow annually at a rate of 5 percent or more over the next five years. In particular, the demand has been steadily growing since it was started to be used in automobile parts such as high-performance tire cords and armatures for durability of the fifth-generation mobile communications fiber-optic cables.
Meanwhile, Kolon Industries is also reviewing an additional massive expansion of the Heracron line.