TOKYO - Mitsui Toatsu Chemicals Inc. will invest nearly $30 million on construction of a recordable CD plant in Colorado Springs. Only three months ago Mitsui Toatsu, anticipating higher demand for recordable compact discs, increased production of the discs at its Mobara City, Japan, facility from 300,000 a month to 700,000. When the U.S. plant comes on line next year, Mitsui Toatsu will have a capacity of 18 million discs a year, making it far and away the world's leading producer of recordable CD media.
All U.S. production of discs will be done under the aegis of Mitsui Advanced Media, a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary that Mitsui Toatsu established in March.
The new firm is capitalized at $10 million. Mitsui officials say they are prepared to ramp production up to as much as 4 million discs a month in Colorado Springs alone if demand warrants.
Recordable optical discs are rapidly replacing paper, magnetic tape and microfilm for long-term storage of sensitive documents and financial information. The estimated life of a CD using Mitsui Toatsu's proprietary technology for the recording layer is more than 100 years. That is far longer than the media that have been used in the past. Adding to the attraction is the low cost, which provide the cheapest means of recording and storing large volumes of data.
Falling hardware costs have also pushed up demand for recordable CD media. Where mastering equipment once cost many thousands of dollars, prices of equipment to record CDs have fallen below $1,000, putting the technology within the reach of advanced amateurs.
Three months ago, according to Hidetoshi Todokoro, a Mitsui Chemical official in the firm's Tokyo office, Mitsui Toatsu was weighing the relative advantages of launching production in the United States or building a new plant in Japan. The decision to build the Colorado Springs plant was at least partly based on the growing demand in the U.S. market.