Polyurethane Association Murali Mohan and reported in Urethane Technology International magazine’s June/July footwear feature, is growing.
UK-based research firm IAL Consultants has forecast India's that production of PU products will amount to 729kT, whether foamed or non-foamed, in 2016.
Over in China, according to Zhu Changchun, general secretary of China Polyurethane Industry Association, the country’s output of PU products exceeded 9.6m tonnes in 2014 – a 10% increase on 2013, he said.
In his paper, Development situation of polyurethane industry in China, Changchun said that in 2007 the country’s capacity represented 7% of the global capacity.
In 2014, he said, that percentage was over 30% - a fourfold increase.
Its MDI production rate was about 90% he said and that, with Wanhua producing 1.8m tonnes/year, it had overtaken BASF and Bayer. Changchun also said global consumption ratios stood at 40% for Asia, compared to 35% Western Europe and North America 20%.
It was Inoac International’s ceo Soichi Inoue who first introduced polyurethane to Japan in 1954. With around 1,500 employees, in 2013 the company registered sales of YEN162,900m ($1.3bn). Polyurethane products make up roughly a quarter of that total.
Auto, technology, construction and consumer are Inoac’s key markets. The firm manufactures seating systems, protective materials for technological products like phones and laptops as well furniture and consumer goods.
Inoac’s headquarters is in Nagoya, capital of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture and located around 220km south west of Tokyo. The company has six plants in Japan.
Its Yana plant is the biggest for flexible slabstock polyurethane foam in the country. The facility includes the full sequence of the production process from foaming to fabrication.
Inoac’s Yana plant has two foaming lines – the first built in 1993 and the second in 2005. It is 70m from mixing head to cutting. The longest length is 63m.
The machine, which is the older of Inoac’s two at the site, produces 700 tonnes of flexible foam every month said Yana plant manager Masami Ogawa. By producing 15 blocks a day, its output is 900m per day.
The site is 98,000m2 and the plants occupy 33,000m2. It employs 230 people. The produce is continuous foam, cut down to 60m. Inoac produces both foam roll and foam block at a rate of 100T/month.
The maximum number of blocks the machine can produce in a day is 35, with the average being 15 to 20. It operates five days a week. According to Ogawa, 30% of the output is special grade foam, the remainder is general grade foam.
Over 100 different types of foam are produced at the site and it uses a CO2 foaming system and produces both polyester and polyether-based foams.
The foam will go into auto seating products said Ogawa. According to him, 55% of Inoac’s market is auto and 15% furniture. Inoac purchased German furniture brand Hukla, so now manufactures a range of goods and exports direct to the consumer.
The remaining 30% of its market comprises industrial processing. According to Ogawa, 2,300 short blocks are reticulated per month.
Cutting at the site is done on one of four slicing machines. They cut sheets ranging from 5mm to 25mm at a rate of 200 sheets per day.
About the event
The two-day event in the Japanese capital of Tokyo attracted over 300 delegates in May.
The conference, which is only the third such event, was organised by the International PU Forum Committee in partnership with the International Polyurethane Technology Foundation. It was held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of PU’s introduction to Japan.
Companies including BASF and BMS gave presentations on topics ranging from bio-polyurethanes to spray polyurethane foam market development.