Kobelco Aluminum Products & Extrusions Inc. (KPEX), the U.S. subsidiary of Kobe Steel, Ltd., held an opening ceremony celebrating its launch of extrusion operations in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The integrated production facility, which began operation in November 2018, manufactures and sells bumper and car frame materials, which are increasingly being implemented in vehicles.
“We’re growing our business and enhancing our presence as a manufacturer of aluminum extruded parts for cars,” said Yukimasa Miyashita, senior managing executive officer and head of the Aluminum & Copper Business, Kobe Steel. “In this way, we continue to meet the need for lighter cars that meet fuel efficiency regulations and stronger collision safety regulations in North America.”
KPEX was established in April 2016 and broke ground shortly thereafter. The facility provided fully integrated production, from melting and casting to extrusion to final manufacturing in the form of fabrication.
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.
In the North American automotive market, the need for lightweight, high-strength materials is accelerating on the back of more stringent collision safety regulations and environmental regulations. Looking ahead to greater demand for aluminum materials with improved impact absorption qualities, KPEX has decided to further increase the production capacity of all its production processes.
The company will invest approximately $42 million to increase overall production capacity of its plant in Bowling Green. The company will add an additional melting furnace and extrusion press, bringing the plant’s capabilities to a total of 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 aim is for the new equipment to begin production in 2021.