AKRON—Shin-Etsu Silicones of America Inc. is set to increase its production capabilities for the North American market.
The firm is investing $21.3 million to add a 44,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility at its Akron campus, which currently consists of five buildings—production sites and a technical center—and 200 employees.
The new site will add 20-30 jobs, according to Eric Bishop, North America marketing manager for Shin-Etsu, and is set to be operational by 2019, though Bishop said the firm hopes to begin some production in 2018.
He added that Shin-Etsu has enough land to double the size of the new building should business dictate in the future.
The investment is part of Japan-based parent company Shin-Etsu Chemical Co.'s overall plan to invest in growth, spending more than $600 million globally during the last four years, Bishop said.
"Shin-Etsu is pretty conservative about how we handle our finances," he said. "As a result we have a fair amount of capital and cash access. We're pleased to be using it to foster growth beyond and into the next decade from now."
The new site will produce both thermal interface materials for automotive and electronic applications and emulsions for the personal care market. Bishop said some of the interface materials currently are manufactured at the Akron campus, but the emulsions will be new additions.
Shin-Etsu has had a presence in Akron for nearly 30 years, currently producing RTVs for industrial and automotive applications and gels for cosmetics.
The firm does not currently produce liquid silicone rubber domestically, but Bishop said Shin-Etsu sees strong growth potential in that market—especially in optical applications. The firm is working toward bringing LSR production to the region in the near future.
"One of our main areas of emphasis and growth is on the LSR side," Bishop said. "We've had a lot of success in the last 10 years and essentially we're trying to grow a critical mass of business so we can justify capital investment for manufacturing LSRs domestically as well."
It's been a busy few years for Shin-Etsu, adding capacity and technical capabilities globally. Some recent moves include a $40.5 million investment at its Gunma, Japan, facility—its largest plant in Japan—for a new research and development site in 2015, in addition to another $40 million at Gunma for additional production capacity.
Also in 2015, its Naoetsu, Japan, campus received a $24.3 million investment in a new site dedicated for silicone products used in paint materials, and the firm secured land for additional production in Thailand with a $4 million investment.
As for North America, the firm established a new technical center in Paramus, N.J., in 2015 to enhance its presence in the cosmetics market.
"It's helped a lot," Bishop said. "What we have now is not only cosmetic work, but we have those basic R&D and analytical capabilities there. That was really a strategic decision on the part of Shin-Etsu Japan to try and take the R&D out of Japan, essentially decentralizing it so we could be closer to the customers in the market for our development efforts. We think it will be more responsive and quicker to market with new products."