Increased demand for body armor and other safety and security products has led DuPont Co. to announce a $500 million capacity expansion for its Kevlar-brand para-amid fiber and polymer.
The expansion is the largest in the product's 42-year history, officials with Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont said. The first phase of the project will boost Kevlar polymer capacity in Richmond, Va. That project will be launched later this year and will be completed by the end of 2008, DuPont spokeswoman Stephanie Jacobson said in a phone interview.
Overall Kevlar capacity in Richmond and in Maydown, Northern Ireland, will increase by 25 percent by 2010. Separate capacity totals for each site were unavailable. The project is not expected to create any new manufacturing jobs, but may increase the ranks of the firm's sales and marketing team.
Demand for Kevlar has climbed in recent years, due in part to increased U.S. military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. To meet this demand, DuPont increased capacity at its Kevlar sites four times between 2000 and 2006.
Beyond military uses, Jacobson said that Kevlar is finding uses in lightweight parts used on Airbus and Boeing planes, as well as in equipment used on oil rigs and in high-speed rail transport.
Globally, DuPont is reviewing other potential sites for Kevlar production and is expected to make a decision on that topic sometime in the next six months, Jacobson said. The firm already makes a related product - Nomex-brand aramid fibers - at plants in Spain and Japan.