FENTON, MICH. (June 20, 1:35 p.m. ET) — U.S.-based thermoplastic composite maker Hanwha Azdel, a unit of South Korea's Hanwha L&C Co. Ltd., said June 19 it is building a US$20 million plant in South Korea to make plastic composites for the transportation and industrial markets.
The facility will make the company's “Superlite” brand of lightweight reinforced thermoplastic composites, and is scheduled to open in 2014 in Bugang, South Korea, where the firm also has manufacturing for glass-mat thermoplastic composites.
“As global demand increased for these materials, we made the strategic investment decision to support our global LWRT customers by expanding production capacity in order to provide a consistent regional supply of lightweight thermoplastic composite materials in this part of the globe,” said Bill Mills, director of global sales and marketing for Hanwha Azdel, which is based in Fenton, Mich.
Both the new LWRT and the existing GMT facility primarily manufacture for the Asian operations of global automotive, heavy truck and recreational vehicle makers and industrial companies.
Demand for composites is projected to grow seven to 10 percent a year through 2020, the company said.
The company's LWRT materials are lower-density versions of GMT that can reduce mass and costs and improve acoustical dampening compared with traditional GMT, the company said.
The firm has also been deepening its presence in the United States. Parent company Hanwha L&C opened its new global automotive business center in Fenton in the second half of 2011.
It's the first global headquarters Hanwha has established outside of South Korea. The facility serves as headquarters for its automotive division and as a research and development center for composites.
The company also has an automotive injection molding factory in Opelika, Ala., where it makes parts from GMT and expanded polypropylene foam.
Hanwha L&C, which supplies materials for the automotive, solar and electronics industries, is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea.
It purchased the Hanwha Azdel business, then called Azdel, in 2007 from co-owners Sabic Innovative Plastics in Pittsfield, Mass., and PPG Industries, in Pittsburgh.
L&C is part of Hanwha Group, a Korean conglomerate with 30,000 employees worldwide and 2011 sales of US$31.6 billion.