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Toray Plastics (America) Inc. will expand capacity for metalized oriented polypropylene film in the first quarter of 1998.

The company will add a third metalizing line to its North Kingstown, R.I., plant. The firm also plans to start up a new 8-meter orienter at about the same time. The company did not provide details on the cost of the investment.

The company's North American production of metalized OPP will increase from 20 million pounds per year to about 30 million pounds per year.

Toray claims a 70 percent share in the U.S. metalized film market — and an 80 percent or better share of the high-barrier metalized film OPP market, according to Richard Schloesser, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Torayfan-brand films are all high-barrier metalized OPP films used in food packaging. Toray produces 55 million pounds of metalized OPP film worldwide.

The expansion is part of the company's focus on new product and market development. The new lines will continue to serve the food packaging, electrical, industrial and consumer products industries. About 50 employees will be added to the staff of 540.

Michael Brandmeier, sales and marketing manager at Toray, said the overall OPP market is growing at an annual rate of 3-4 percent, while the metalized OPP market is growing in the range of 10-15 percent per year.

``Toray continues to evaluate new technologies which offer the potential for significant breakthroughs in barrier performance,'' he said.

Toray ranked No. 40 in Plastics News' 1996 survey of North American film and sheet manufacturers, with estimated sales of $128 million. It is a subsidiary of Toray Industries Inc. of Tokyo.