U.S. thermoset laminate sheet maker Norplex-Micarta is opening its second office in China, in Shanghai, and said it may locate manufacturing in Asia.
The firm said it's considering building a plant to make its composite materials in the region, said Alan Johnson, director of business development for the Postville, Iowa, firm. The firm announced the new sales office Jan. 29.
``Our plans are to develop manufacturing facilities in Asia in the next two to three years,'' Johnson said. ``Many of the customers and markets we serve have established manufacturing facilities or partnered with existing facilities in China. Many of these customers are having difficulty finding the high-quality materials they are used to, and we are currently exporting materials from Iowa to China.''
Domestic Chinese materials typically can operate in temperatures up to about 248° F, while Norplex said its materials can withstand 302° F, he said.
The Shanghai location will be a sales office, and will be in the factory of its parent company, Industrial Dieletrics Inc. of Noblesville, Ind. Norplex also has an office in Shenzhen.
Norplex started selling into China two years ago and does about $500,000 a year in exports there, while importing about the same value of lower-technology materials from China to its facility in Iowa, he said.
The company estimates it needs at least $1.5 million in export volumes to justify a facility in Asia, he said.
The firm's largest single market is supplying thermoset materials for power generation and distribution equipment, a market that has seen firms like General Electric and Siemens partner with Chinese companies to feed the country's growing appetite for energy, Johnson said.
Johnson said the company still is evaluating whether the IDI locations in China would be adequate for its manufacturing, and whether to pursue a joint venture or manufacture on its own.
Norplex does about $50 million in annual sales.