The Polypropylene Fibres Industry in Japan
In statistics provided by MITI, PP fibres are classified roughly into PP staple and PP filament. And the latter is classified again into PP BCF, multifilament yarn for industrial uses, monofilament yarn and spunbonded.
(1) In 1999, total production of PP staple decreased by about 3% in comparison with the previous year. Looking at the application field, the carpet recorded a big fall resulting in 4,100 tons, i.e. 11% less compared to the year before, and the industrial material use also decreased to 44.3 thousand tons, i.e. 3% less compared to the year before, but the export increased slightly to 8 thousand tons, i.e. 3% more compared to the year before.
Industrial material use
(2) In 1999, total production of PP filament equaled an estimated 84 thousand tons, i.e. 2% less compared to the year before. Looking at the application field, the spunbonded kept to the same level as in 1998 and having a 45% share in total shipment of PP filament, and the multifilament yarn for industrial uses did not change in quantity either compared to 1998. On the other hand, PP BCF increased by 10% compared to the year before.
It has increased a share in the markets of tile carpet and automotive application gradually by taking over Nylon BCF of its share. Nylon BCF lacks the cost competitiveness with the market price, and PP BCF has the advantage of the environment-friendly and low-pollutive material in the demand for recycling.
The new year started without serious errors in computers, Y2K problem, worried in the world. Owing to the governmental action to revive the economy, the business recovery in Southeast Asia and Europe, and the continuous prosperity in the USA, the Japanese economy will recover gently, and its economic growth rate in 2000 is expected to be more than 1%. Under these circumstances, total demand for PP staple fibres in Japan will increase slightly compared to last year.
And total demand for PP filament in Japan will also increase compared to last year.
To conclude, the total demand for the Japanese PP fibres in 2000 will most likely show an increase of a few percent compared to last year and will come back to its level in 1998.
The fibre consumption for the application to industrial materials was 686 thousand tons, having a 45% share of its total in 1998.
The outlook for the demand for industrial materials is shown in Table 6 . Looking at the end uses, the bedding-wadding is the largest; about a 30% share and the use for automotive is the second largest; 22%. But a large increase isn't expected in these applications. On the other hand, the steady growth is expected in geotextile and hygienic materials.
The details of industrial materials are shown in Table 7. The consumption on synthetic fibres is 374,000 tons, having a 54.5% share. Polyester is the largest, 169,200 tons (24.7%) and Polypropylene, 70,200 tons (10.5%), and Nylon, 6,500 tons (9.5%), are following.
The end uses as industrial materials are classified into Tire Cord, Rope-Net, Heavy Fabric, Packing-Sewing, Felt Fabric, Nonwovens Fabric, Automotive and Others.
Polyester fibre and Nylon one are used for many applications, but the end uses of Polypropylene fibre are restricted considerably. They are, for example Nonwovens, Rope-Net, Packing, Tape, Braid, Tatami mat and so on. The suitable properties are demanded to each applications. The relation between fibre tenacity and the end uses is shown in Fig-1.
Fig. 1 Relation between fibre tenacity and the end uses
The end uses which need high tenacity yarn may make the restricted markets, because high tenacity is demanded for special parts in this applications, furthermore some other properties, e.g. dyeability, fashionability, and so on, are lost by increase of tenacity.
The domestic demand and the production for polypropylene multifilament are decreasing in Japan, because the manufactures of typical applications, such as ropes, nets, tapes, braid, packing, and so on, moved to overseas. Mitsubishi Rayon is the top producer of PP multifilament in Japan. The development of new markets for it is very important for us. We started the development of the fields of designed fabrics using PP multifilament, for example, office furnishing (chair clothes, partition), heavy fabric for tents, automotive interior, and so on. The characteristics of polypropyelene, i.e. good removability to stains, lightness, light resistance and aptitude for recycling, will create the advantage in these applications, we hope.
This article is published on NF New Fibres, see the contents.