Kobe Steel, Ltd. announces that its U.S. subsidiary, Kobelco Aluminum Products & Extrusions Inc. (or KPEX), will invest approximately $42 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, KPEX manufactures and sells bumper materials and car frame materials. These aluminum extruded products are increasingly being used in cars. In November 2018, KPEX began integrated production, ranging from melting and casting to the final manufacturing process of fabrication.
On the back of stricter collision safety regulations, the need for automobiles of lighter weight and higher strength is accelerating. On this trend, demand is anticipated to grow for aluminum materials with improved impact absorption qualities. To capture further demand, KPEX decided to increase production capacity for melting, extrusion and fabrication. Plans call for the new equipment to go into mass production in the first half of 2020. When the expansion is completed, KPEX will have two melting furnaces and two extrusion presses. Production capacity will increase to 1,000 tons per month, from the current 500 tons per month. The new investment is expected to create about 90 new jobs.
KPEX makes use of Kobe Steel’s original weight-reduction proposals covering both the development of high-strength 7000 series aluminum alloys and cross-sectional design technology cultivated in the Japanese market to gain the trust of its customers. Contributing to automotive weight reduction, KPEX strengthens Kobe Steel’s supply network covering Japan and the U.S.
KPEX is Kobe Steel’s second manufacturing location in Bowling Green after Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products, LLC (or KAAP), which produces aluminum forgings for car suspensions and aluminum cast rods for compressors.