Düsseldorf, Germany — As part of a European growth effort, Asahi Kasei Corp. will open a technical center in Dormagen, Germany, by the end of the year.
The center will include polymer testing capabilities, officials with Tokyo-based Asahi Kasei said at an Oct. 21 news conference at K 2016. The firm already operates five tech centers in Asia and one in the United States.
Asahi Kasei also is considering adding its own compounding operations in Europe after toll compounding in Germany for the last four years. Materials — including plastics — account for 52 percent of the firm's sales. Its plastic products include nylon 6/6 and acetal resins, polypropylene compounds and modified grades of polyphenylene ether.
On April 1, Asahi Kasei established Asahi Kasei Europe GmbH. The unit is intended to drive the firm's European sales, which currently account for less than 5 percent of its companywide total of around $17 billion.
“Our most important strategy is to expand globally and to accelerate our rate of globalization,” engineering plastics General Manager Taku Ishida said at the news conference. “We want to triple our sales in Europe in the next 10 years.”
Asahi Kasei's European sales in 2015 totaled around $760 million. The firm employs almost 800 in the region.
On the new product front, Asahi Kasei has developed high-temperature grades of Leona-brand nylon 6/6 for auto oil pans and cylinder head covers, according to technical manager Yasuhisha Ichihashi. A new blend of nylon 6/6 and PTFE is a low-friction grade for chain guides.
The firm also has introduced a 60 percent glass-fiber nylon 6/6 that's used in door mirror parts on the Toyota Aqua, Ichihashi added.
Asahi Kasei Plastics North America is a major PP compounder and one of the region's 30 largest compounders overall. In April, that unit opened a new 100,000-square-foot compounding plant in Athens, Ala.
The North American unit also plans to have a compounding site in Mexico by 2018. These operations are in addition to its main compounding plant at its regional headquarters site in Fowlerville, Mich.