DSM to build fifth Dyneema yarn production line


DSM High Performance Fibers, the producer of Dyneema superstrong polyethylene fibre, is going to expand its production capacity once again. At the existing Heerlen (Netherlands) production site, a fifth production line with a capacity of 600 tpa will be built. The project involves an investment of around EUR 30 million and comes on top of a number of other expansions carried out this year to meet the fast growing market demand. The fifth Dyneema yarn production line will come on stream in the last quarter of 2002, bringing total capacity at Heerlen to 3,200 tpa. In 2002 the company's workforce will grow by approximately 30.

The market for Dyneema is growing strongly. The combination of high strength and low weight is the reason that Dyneema is increasingly used in high-performance protective products such as lightweight bullet-resistant vests and helmets, vehicle armouring, safety gloves and protective clothing, as well as in sails and other sport articles, nautical ropes and cables, fishing lines and fishing nets.

Over the last few years demand in protective applications has grown very fast. On top of that, Dyneema's successful track record in rope and twine applications has accelerated the replacement of steel and polyester in these applications.

"We have changed our organization to keep up with market demand, which is increasing very fast," says Pieter Greidanus, director of DSM High Performance Fibers. "The most recent capacity expansion scheme for Dyneema yarns confirms this: by the end of 2002 total production capacity will be 3,200 tpa, more than double the 2000 figure."

"The market for Dyneema is growing even faster than we expected," comments Peter Elverding, chairman of the DSM Managing Board. "These investments will enable the Dyneema business to implement its growth strategy at an accelerated pace. The investments in these high performance products are fully in line with our Vision 2005: Focus & Value strategy."

This strategy, presented at the end of last year, defines DSM's goals for the next few years. Elverding: "By 2005 DSM aims to rank among the world's leading players in the field of specialties characterized by a high added value. To this end, DSM is transforming itself into a specialty company: a company specializing in advanced chemical and biotechnological products and performance materials".

"We expect demand for Dyneema products to outstrip the capacity of the five Dyneema production lines within two years," says Pieter Greidanus. "Therefore, DSM has initiated an engineering study into the construction of a sixth Dyneema fibre plant in the USA. We have a solid position in Europe now and fast growing sales in North America." In 2001 DSM High Performance Fibers also built a 400 tpa production line for Dyneema UD in Greenville (NC) in the USA. Dyneema UD is a special sheet material made of Dyneema fibres, which is used for personal ballistic protection and lightweight vehicle armour. The Dyneema UD line will start production in the coming months. "This capacity expansion, too, is badly needed, as our 400 tpa Dyneema UD unit at Heerlen is running at full capacity," says Randy McGowan, director of DSM High Performance Fibers USA Inc.

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