Global glass fiber source Owens Corning (Toledo, Ohio) announced on June 19 a $130 million investment in North America to expand its global glass nonwovens business. The new facility will house a state-of-the-art manufacturing line, coating capability and R&D activities, with future expansion options. The North American facility will use Owens Corning glass fibers supplied from existing facilities and will specialize in high-quality nonwovens for composite systems and residential and commercial building materials, including wall coverings, ceiling and flooring materials, specialty insulation, gypsum and automotive products.
The location of the new facility has been narrowed to several U.S. states. The final determination will be based on proximity to customers; availability of talent, infrastructure and natural resources; and whether it is a favorable business environment. The final site selection is expected in the near future.
“There is a limited supply of glass nonwoven products serving the global building materials market today,” contends Owens Corning group president Arnaud Genis, who notes that because “projections for long-term growth are optimistic, our customers have been eagerly waiting for Owens Corning to offer more of our unique products and solutions to support and accelerate their growth.”
The company also recently announced a strategic alliance with glass fiber producer Taishan Fiberglass, a subsidiary of China National Materials Group, also known as Sinoma (Beijing, China), to expand throughout the world the use of Alkali Resistant (AR) specialty glass products sold under the trademarks CemFIL, Anti-CRAK and SlurryFIL.
Since their development and launch in 1970, AR-glass fibers have been used, according to Owens Corning, in more than 120 countries for the reinforcement of cement and concrete. CemFIL is a high-performance alkali-resistant glass fiber that is engineered to reinforce concrete and prevent plastic, thermal and dry shrinkage cracking. CemFIL increases flexural strength and ductility and adds toughness to concrete. AR-glass fibers and CemFIL are best known for their use in factory-produced glass fiber-reinforced concrete (GRC) elements, but the range of Anti-CRAK fibers has been recently expanded for use in the general ready-mix concrete and precast industries (e.g., flooring, thin-walled elements).
Manufacturing for the alliance will be based in China and supported by Owens Corning’s global R&D centers, which will provide product and applications development for these specialty reinforcements. To ensure commercial focus and success, Taishan will market the products in China, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, Japan, South Korea, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, while Owens Corning will serve markets throughout the rest of the world.
Genis adds, “We believe a bright future exists for glass reinforcements in cement materials, the largest materials market in the world. With Taishan’s strong manufacturing experience in China, and Sinoma’s experience in cement materials and engineering, this alliance is the right combination to bring growth to AR-glass reinforcements for the foreseeable future.”