Teijin breaks ground for carbon fiber facility in South Carolina

TENAX manufacturing to start second half of 2020, targeting aerospace and automotive industries.

As reported by CW in Nov 2016, Teijin Limited (Tokyo, Japan) purchased roughly 440 acres of commercial land in Greenwood, South Carolina to establish a carbon fiber production site, projecting an investment of $600 million and creation of 220 jobs by 2030. Now, 18 months later, Teijin has broken ground on its first TENAX structural carbon fiber plant in the US, already having its Rockwood, TN facility for manufacturing Pyromex carbon fiber used in flame-resistant insulation, carbon/carbon brakes and gas diffusion layers for fuel cells.

CW attended Teijin’s groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, June 1, 2018, held at the new site outside of Greenwood, which is located 55 miles southeast of Greenville and 80 miles west of Columbia. Teijin joins a growing list of high-tech manufacturers in Greenwood, located directly across from FUJIFILM Manufacturing USA., Inc. (the North American Manufacturing and R&D headquarters for this wholly-owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based FUJIFILM) and Ascend Performance Materials (Houston, TX, USA), reportedly the world’s largest producer of Nylon 6,6 resin.

Jane Thomas, president of Teijin Holdings USA Inc. began the ceremony, answering the question, “Why Greenwood?” She explained the decision involved a complex matrix of factors including infrastructure, incentives and an unbeatable coalition via the Greenwood Partnership Alliance“but mostly it was the people.” She described the local culture as a combination of “grit and grace” and noted the unwavering commitment from the city, county and state. “This new facility will produce the most significant manufactured material of our generation,” said Thomas, adding that industrial demand for carbon fiber is surging. “This site will create hundreds of jobs and will support families for generations.”

Mr. Toshiya Koyama, executive officer of Teijin Limited stated, “Carbon fiber is one of Teijin’s core businesses. We are building this facility to grow our business footprint in the US and to serve as a global hub for Teijin carbon fiber for the aerospace and automotive industries.”

 

Teijin carbon fiber facility ground breaking Greenwood South Carolina SC
Shovels used at Teijin Greenwood, SC groundbreaking were made from TENAX carbon fiber and para-aramid fiber (the company produces both TECHNORA and TWARON).
SOURCE: CW
 

We look forward to this new chapter of Teijin’s expansion in the U.S.,” said Yukito Miyajima, president of Teijin Carbon Fibers, Inc. (TCF). “We are strengthening its global upstream-to-downstream carbon fiber business.” Noting the company’s beginning 100 years ago in the summer of 1918, he added, “Our 101st year starts here in Greenwood. We will integrate Teijin’s carbon fiber business with US industries.”

After the ceremony, CW spoke with Shukei Inui, General Manager Carbon Fibers Business Unit for Teijin. “This new facility will take roughly two years to construct, with production starting in the second half of 2020. The first industry it will support is aerospace, with products such as Teijin’s high-tenacity and intermediate modulus 12K and 24K fibers.” He notes that Teijin already supplies carbon fiber to the automotive industry and this South Carolina facility will help to grow this market. Inui said that polyacrylonitrile (PAN) precursor for the Greenwood plant will be imported from Teijin’s newly completed line in Japan (an expansion announced in Nov 2017). However, with sufficient growth in the market, Inui suggested that such a line could possibly be built here in the future as well. Though the exact production numbers for the South Carolina plant have not been disclosed, Inui said it will be one of the largest capacity facilities for Teijin, similar to the 2,700 metric tonne/yr line added to its Mishima Plant in Japan in 2008.

 

Strong Japan-SC partnership

The strong partnership between Japan and South Carolina was highlighted by Takashi Shinozuka, Consul General of Japan in Atlanta, GA. “South Carolina is well-known in Japan as a great place to do business, not just because of incentives, but because of the success achieved by companies here through support at all levels.” As of 2017, 190 Japanese companies have a presence in South Carolina, 55 of which are in the Upstate area. Japanese companies have invested almost $3.4 billion in South Carolina since 2011 and South Carolina companies export over a $1 billion in goods to Japan, according to Upstate Alliance. This relationship is strengthened by annual joint meetings of the Southeast U.S.-Japan Association (SEUS) and the Japan-U.S. Southeast Association (JUSSA Japan).

South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, appointed by Governor Nikki Haley in 2011, observed that 25 years ago, “South Carolina was a textile and tobacco state. Now it is an advanced manufacturing state, including significant activity in the aerospace and automotive industries.” He touted the achievements of Team South Carolina, which has recruited approximately $32 billion in capital investment and more than 118,000 new jobs in world-class companies such as BMW, Boeing, Bridgestone, Continental, Giti Tire, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Michelin, Samsung, Toray, Volvo Cars and more. “Still, companies locate in communities, not states,” he acknowledged. “FUJIFILM stood tall, one company cordially inviting another to locate across the street. That’s very neighborly.” This sentiment was echoed repeatedly throughout the ceremony.

In its corporate press release, Teijin said it aims to be an enterprise that supports the society of the future, and will further evolve its carbon-fiber businesses under a long-term vision to reduce its environmental footprint and satisfy tightening environmental regulations worldwide.