In another boost to the world's cast acrylic sheet capacity, DuPont Co. is expanding a factory in Oviedo, Spain, to bring Corian production to Europe.
New production in Spain will match increased production in New York, as well, Carol Gee, Corian global business manager, said in a July 27 telephone interview.
``We will be making enhancements to our plant in Buffalo, as well as expanding our technical center,'' she said.
Corian is a mineral-filled, cast acrylic used in counter tops and other surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms. Like other solid-surface materials, fabricators also use Corian for furniture, lighting and wall cladding.
DuPont also produces Corian through a joint venture with Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd. in Japan. The move to Europe was a logical step, Gee said.
``Europe is the second-largest market after North America, and is growing rapidly,'' she said.
The $110 million investment will bring 80 more jobs to Oviedo, where DuPont already produces spun polymer cloth, fibers and fiber precursors. The project will begin in mid-1999, with Corian production to start two years later.
DuPont will not disclose its total capacity for solid-surface material, let alone how the expansions will affect Corian output.
``We don't share capacity numbers. But I can say DuPont is the solid surface leader,'' Gee said. ``We invented the category and our capacity exceeds all others in the marketplace.''
That marketplace is growing.
Aristech Acrylics LLC recently announced it was adding a fourth casting line to its Florence, Ky., plant, mainly to increase capacity of its Acrystone solid-surface product.
DuPont is adding capacity to go after other materials, not its in-kind competitors, Gee said.
``Our major competitor in the world is stone,'' she said. ``Our goal is to convert more granite and laminate countertops to solid-surface.''
DuPont also hopes Corian can break out from its traditional uses.
``Wall cladding is our next big market,'' Gee said. ``The opportunity is huge.''