Knitting capacity expanded in Brazilian technical fabrics production facility

Fueled by demand for wind blade material, the expansion will double fiberglass fabric capacity in Brazil.

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Owens Corning (Toledo, Ohio) announced in early December last year the addition of glass fiber knitting equipment at its facility in Rio Claro, northwest of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The new equipment doubles OC’s capacity for making fiberglass technical fabrics. The addition is the third capacity expansion since the plant was established three years ago. A portion of the new capacity began production in September 2009; the balance was installed by year’s end.

Demand for fiberglass technical fabrics is growing in Brazil, driven by the success of wind turbine rotor blade fabricators based in the region. Wind blades produced in Brazil are used not only in the local market but  are exported as well.

“This latest expansion to our fabric knitting capacity highlights our strategy to support market growth and emphasizes our commitment to help our Latin America customers grow and succeed, both locally and globally,” says Beth Rettig, OCV Technical Fabrics’ general manager, Americas.

The company began producing fiberglass reinforcements in Brazil in July  2006, when it established the facility for technical fabrics, including woven, stitched and knitted products. Fabric capacity was doubled in 2007, and in 2008, the company moved the operations to a new facility and doubled capacity again.

In Latin America at present, Brazil has the largest installed capacity of wind energy power generation. It offers the greatest potential as an economically viable source of electric power, followed by Argentina, where wind-based energy has been attracting significant attention. In the country’s southern Patagonian provinces, there are consistently strong westerly winds. To the north, the Mexico Renewable Energy Program promotes the development of alternate energy sources. Mexico has good locations and wind resources, offering the potential to produce significant renewable energy — enough to offset more than half that now produced with fossil fuels.