The Road to ANEX 2018 Series 18: Kurashiki Textile Wins With Quality, Function & Composites

Kurangraft is expected to be in demand for semiconductors

Kurashiki Textile Manufacturing Co., Ltd. is a nonwovens maker of the Kurabo Group, and manufactures and sells nonwovens for a wide range of applications from apparel and household goods to filters, automotives and industrial materials.

In addition to making full use of chemical-bonding, thermal-bonding and needle-punching methods, the company has been expanding its business by focusing on functionality processing and combinations with other materials. Kurashiki Textile President Katsumi Aoyama says, “As a matter of course, we aim to absolutely beat the competition naturally with the stability of quality as well as functionalization by composite technology, etc.”

The company continued a solid business performance in fiscal 2017, and filters remain particularly strong. Filter-related sales have increased by more than 40% over the last five years. Supporting the growth is the application of functionality processing to nonwovens. For instance, the deodorizing function of automobile air cabin filters was standardized, and functionality processing such as antibacterial and antiviral performance is recently in growing demand.

When a functional material is used with filtering nonwovens, pressure loss inevitably occurs. For this reason, it is the trade-off relationship between functionality and filter performance/durability, but President Aoyama points out, “Our forte is that we have the technical strength to solve such issues and to apply functional materials while reducing pressure loss.”

With such technological strength, automotive-related applications including filters continue to expand. In addition to insulators and head lining materials, Kurashiki Textile nonwovens have recently expanded to new applications such as sound-absorbing materials. Even for sectors other than automotives, the company’s basic strategy is to advance the development of new applications by composite technology, such as lamination and bonding with nets, films or filament nonwovens, and for that reason, processing equipment is being increased at the Shizuoka Plant in Kakegawa, Shizuoka Prefecture (Japan).

In regard to new applications, a highly hopeful product is “Kurangraft” metal ion removing cartridge filters. Very small amounts of metal ions can be collected and removed with high accuracy and high speed with the company’s original radiation graft polymerization process. Kurashiki Textile is proposing Kurangraft for filtering chemical solutions used in semiconductor manufacturing, etc., and moves to use these filters are beginning to materialize. Production is currently being carried out at a pilot plant within the Shizuoka Plant, and plans for mass production have also started to be examined.

Kurashiki Textile is also producing abroad. A Chinese subsidiary, Foshan Kurashiki Textile Manufacturing Co., Ltd. was launched in Foshan, Guangdong Province (China) in 2017, and is developing the Chinese market centering on filters for air purifiers. The company will also work on developing applications other than filters for air cleaners. Since the production space of Japanese plants is becoming tight, it is also considering utilizing the production capacity of Foshan Kurashiki Textile.

At ANEX 2018, Kurashiki Textile will launch a number of nonwoven products based on proprietary technologies under the theme “Challenges for High Functionality”. In addition to Kurangraft, the company will exhibit “KranCsair” air filters processed with a variety of functionality processing, sound-absorbing materials and insulators for automobiles and “Kran-Shield” functional nonwovens for which applications are expanding in the sectors of civil engineering and building materials. It will also introduce “Silky Veil” special nonwovens for cosmetic face masks and functional interlining for clothing. Furthermore, it will disseminate its strength by introducing the products of Foshan Kurashiki Textile in Japan and abroad.