Hoechst AG of Frankfurt, Germany, and Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. of Tokyo announced May 15 they will spend $300 million to upgrade and boost production at their Global Joint Venture polyester film plants worldwide. The expansion will increase total capacity by 176 million pounds, to about 441 million pounds.
Included will be upgrades and a debottlenecking project at the Hoechst Diafoil Co. thin- and thick-film plant in Greer, S.C., which will boost production capacity by about 26.4 million pounds per year.
The firm also plans a seventh polyester line at Greer, capable of producing 44 million pounds of film per year. The world-class-sized line should be installed by 2000. Currently, the six film lines at Greer have capacity for about 110 million pounds annually.
Ed Miers, business director for thin films at Greer, which is the only plant operated by the joint venture in the Western Hemisphere, said the capacity upgrades are targeted to keeping pace with increasing demands for polyester films in the Americas and worldwide.
``Estimates for growth of use of polyester film worldwide run at about 5 percent annually,'' he said. ``That rate would be a little higher in Asia, a little lower in the Americas, and about even with that average in Europe.''
The Diafoil operations make thin- and thick-film products for the video, electronics, packaging, reprographic, and industrial markets.
As part of the $300 million capacity upgrade program, the joint venture partners also will build what they claim will be the world's largest state-of-the-art line to produce Hostaphan-brand polyester film at the venture's Hoechst Diafoil GmbH plant in Weisbaden, Germany.
The line is scheduled to be operational by late 1997 with a capacity of 44 million pounds per year. The Weisbaden facility also will be debottlenecked to boost capacity by about 15.4 million pounds. The Weisbaden plant supplies film to markets in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
The third component of the upgrade program will see installation of a 44 million-pound-per-year film line at the Diafoil Hoechst Co. Ltd. plant in Merak, Indonesia. The new mega-line will be operational by mid-1998 and, in concert with two other Diafoil plants in Nagahama and Santo, Japan, will supply all Asian markets.
Global Joint Venture, formed between Hoechst and Mitsubishi, was established in 1992, and currently manufactures 264 million pounds of polyester film annually worldwide.