TOKYO -- Shin-Etsu Chemical will spend 20 billion yen ($164 million) to bolster production of silicone at two domestic plants by 2017 and to set up a research center for developing new applications.
Silicone demand for electronic and automotive components has grown with the spread of environmentally friendly cars and increasingly computerized vehicles. Silicone compounds are known for their heat resistance, insulating properties and durability.
The Japanese company will invest 12 billion yen at a Gunma site, raising output capacity by 80% at a facility equipped to handle low volumes of numerous products. Another 3 billion yen will go toward boosting a Niigata plant's capacity by 50%. These upgrades are slated for completion by March 2017.
Shin-Etsu will also build a 5 billion yen research facility at the Gunma location by next spring. With hybrid and electric vehicles further fueling demand for silicone products, the company will look into more ways to put silicone to use.