ALDILA TO BUILD FACILITY FOR CARBON FIBER

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In a market diversification and vertical integration move, graphite golf club shaft manufacturer Aldila Inc. of San Diego plans to spend about $16 million next year to build a plant to manufacture its own carbon fiber.

``For their numbers, I don't think it will be too meaningful,'' said Robert Marvin, consumer products analyst with Seidler Cos. Inc. in Los Angeles. ``It will probably add something to the 1998'' results.

Aldila employs 1,000 and reported profit of $4.7 million on sales of $54.6 million for the year ending Sept. 30.

Aldila's core graphite golf shaft business consumes about 4 percent of the total carbon fiber produced worldwide, said Gary Barbera, Aldila chairman and chief executive officer.

That translates into about 800,000 pounds of polyacrylonitrile-based carbon fiber per year, said Benjamin Rasmussen, a composites industry consultant in Watchung, N.J. He said Aldila's integration ``may set a model for other high-volume users.''

Aldila is considering sites in southwestern Wyoming and Utah for the planned 50,000-square-foot plant. The company expects to take more than 15 months to design, construct and start the first line, capable of annually producing 2.5 million pounds of 33 million-modulus carbon fiber from textile acrylic precursor.

``Our intent is to bring up half [the capacity] in the first year and then add to that in a year or two,'' Steven Russell, general manager of Aldila's newly formed composites unit, said from an office in Murray, Utah. Russell joined Aldila July 1. He had a 25-year career with Hercules Inc., where he was manager of the carbon fiber business unit when he left in March 1995.

Aldila will size the facility to accommodate a second line that could double annual capacity, eventually to 5 million pounds.

Barbera said Aldila wants to diversify into other carbon fiber products.