Kobe Steel to Establish Copper Sheet Processing Company in China

Kobe Steel, Ltd. has announced that it has established a wholly owned company in China to slit copper sheet for use in electronic applications. Called Suzhou Kobe Copper Technology Co., Ltd., the new company is based in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, west of Shanghai.

A plant will be constructed in Suzhou Industrial Park, and Suzhou Kobe Copper Technology, which will employ 40 people, will have a slitting capacity of 600 metric tons per month. Operations are to commence in spring 2006. By 2009 or 2010, its fourth or fifth year of operation, the new company aims to produce over 6,000 metric tons per year with sales of roughly 4 billion yen.

Kobe Steel's copper sheet business specializes in copper sheet for automotive terminals and connectors and semiconductor leadframes. To meet customer needs for high electrical conductivity, material strength, and heat resistance, Kobe Steel supplies proprietary copper alloys such as KLF5 and CAC60, which are qualified and used by major wire harness makers and automakers for use in terminals and connectors, and KFC, a world-standard material for high current, high voltage semiconductor leadframes. These products are highly rated in the market.

Demand for copper sheet for electronic use is expanding in Shanghai and the southern China area, including Hanzhou. Car production is increasing sharply, furthering demand for electrical connector parts. In addition, semiconductor manufacturers are setting up plants, creating a need for leadframes.

To date, Kobe Steel has been making master copper coils in wide widths and slitting them at its Chofu Plant in Japan for its customers in China. In the future, Kobe Steel will keep an inventory of wide-width coils made at the Chofu Plant in Suzhou. This will enable Suzhou Kobe Copper Technology to promptly slit the coils in accordance with customer requirements. By situating a slitting operation in China, Kobe Steel will be able to more promptly and flexibly respond to the rising demand for copper sheet products in that country.

Combining technical services, Kobe Steel aims to incorporate design and product development with its customers in its marketing activities.

In addition to alloy development, group companies positioned in Japan and Asia contribute to Kobe Steel's strong presence in the market. Kobe Leadmikk, Ltd. and Singapore Kobe Pte., Ltd. stamp and plate leadframe material, while Kobe Electronics (Thailand) Co., Ltd. slits coils. Through these group companies, Kobe Steel supplies copper alloy sheet made at its Chofu Plant in Shimonoseki, Japan, to users throughout Asia. As a result, Kobe Steel estimates it has the top share of the copper sheet market in the Asian region. It has roughly 40% of the 6,000 metric ton-per-month market for copper sheet used in automotive terminals and connectors. It estimates it has about one-fourth of the 13,000 metric-ton-per-month market for semiconductor leadframes.



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