Kobe Steel’s US subsidiary, Kobelco Aluminum Products & Extrusions Inc., will invest around USD42 million to increase the production capacity of its plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This investment will help meet the growing demand for automotive extrusions and fabricated products in the United States.
Established in April 2016, Kobelco manufactures and sells materials for bumpers and car frames. These extruded aluminium products are increasingly being used in cars. In November 2018, the company started integrated production, ranging from melting and casting to the final manufacturing process.
In view of stricter collision safety regulations, the need for lighter automobiles and higher strength is accelerating. On this trend, demand is anticipated to grow for aluminium materials with improved impact absorption qualities. To capture further demand, Kobelco decided to increase production capacity for melting, extrusion and fabrication. Plans call for the new equipment (including a melting furnace and an extrusion press) to go into mass production in the first half of 2020. When the expansion is completed, Kobelco will have two melting furnaces and two extrusion presses. Production capacity will increase to 12,000 tonnes per year, from the 6,000 tonnes per year at present. The new investment is expected to create about 90 new jobs.
Kobelco makes use of Kobe Steel’s original weight-reduction proposals covering both the development of high-strength 7000 series aluminium alloys and cross-sectional design technology cultivated in the Japanese market to gain the trust of its customers.
Kobelco is Kobe Steel’s second manufacturing location in Bowling Green after Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products, LLC (or KAAP), which produces aluminium forgings for car suspensions and aluminium cast rods for compressors.