Japanese steelmaker Kobe Steel, along with the shareholders of Kobe Special Steel Wire Products Company (KSP), has agreed to increase the production capacity of their Chinese joint venture that processes special steel wire rods into steel wires.

Kobe Steel has positioned Japan, the ASEAN countries, North America and China as four major areas to process special steel wire rods for supply to parts manufacturers with operations in the region.

So far, two plants have been set up in Thailand, one in the USA, one in Mexico and four in China. The plan going forward is to continue to develop a supply network.

Other partners in the joint venture are Shinsho Corporation, Osaka Seiko, Meihoku Kogyo Co, Metal One Corporation and Kyodo Shaft Company.

Established in 2007, KSP supplies steel cold heading (CH) steel wires to parts manufacturers. The CH steel wires are used to make automotive bolts, nuts and bearings. Full operation commenced in 2009 and Kobe Steel provides 100% of the special steel wire rods used by the JV company to ensure that ‘the same high-quality material available in Japan can be used to manufacturer high-quality parts in China.’

This will be the fifth time that KSP has increased its production capacity. The latest expansion ‘will help meet the growing needs of KSP’s customers who anticipate a further increase in demand,’ says Kobe Steel.

Approximately 900 million yen (USD7.9 million) is being invested on three new additional wire drawing machines – making 11 in total – and two more heating furnaces, bringing the total to eight. Anticipated start-up dates are March and June 2020 respectively. Plant capacity will increase to 5,500 metric tons/month.