The Hanwha Azdel division (Fenton, Mich., USA) of Hanwha L&C Co. Ltd. (Seoul, South Korea) on June 19 announced a major capacity expansion for its SuperLite lightweight reinforced thermoplastic (LWRT) composite product line with a 23 billion won ($20 million USD) investment that will be used to construct a new plant in Bugang, South Korea.
Scheduled to begin operation in 2014, the facility will be located inside Hanwha L&C’s existing Bugang Plant #2, home to the company’s existing glass-mat thermoplastic (GMT) composite production plant. Both facilities will service global automotive, heavy truck, recreational vehicle and industrial customers with production operations in Asia.
According to Bill Mills, director-Global Sales & Marketing for Hanwha Azdel, “This investment is yet another milestone toward our goal of fully globalizing SuperLite LWRT, a patented technology we introduced in 1999 and that revolutionized how automakers produced composite panels ranging from headliners to underbody shields. These light but tough composite materials are important solutions for more sustainable mobility and are also an important part of Hanwha Azdel’s global business strategy. 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.” Mills says global demand for composites is projected to increase 7 to 10 percent annually through 2020.
LWRT composites are lower density forms of traditional glass-mat thermoplastic (GMT) composites with a higher fiber-volume fraction that are shaped by low-pressure thermostamping and are often faced with fabric or film skins. They significantly reduce component mass and costs and improve acoustical damping vs. traditional GMT and are key product lines for Hanwha Azdel.
Hanwha Azdel Inc. manufactures tough, low-density thermoplastic composites used to produce parts for both interior and exterior applications in the automotive, heavy truck and recreational-vehicle markets as well as other transportation and industrial segments. In autumn of 2011, Hanwha L&C opened its new Hanwha L&C Global Automotive Business Center in Fenton, Mich. This facility serves as headquarters for the Automotive Division, a core business of Hanwha L&C, as well as a research and development center for composites developments.