Kobe Steel is to invest around JPY1.8bn (US$16.37m) to increase production capacity of its steel powder plant in Takasago, Hyogo Prefecture in western Japan.

The production capacity of steel powder products will increase to 110,000 metric tons per year, from the current 96,000 metric tons per year. Mass production is scheduled to start in the April–June quarter of 2021.

Kobe Steel’s steel powder products are mainly used in powder metallurgy to make automotive sintered parts such as engine parts and transmission components. In the steel powder field, Kobe Steel estimates it has nearly a 50% share of the domestic market, making it the top producer in Japan.

Steel powder products are Segless KP and KS series having high compressibility and machinability, which contribute to strength and Segless graphite segregation-free steel powders.

With car production forecast to increase during the medium to long term, demand for steel powders is anticipated to grow in the future, leading to Kobe Steel’s decision to increase the production capacity of the steel powder plant.

Kobe Steel will install another reduction furnace to enable higher treatment temperatures than the current furnaces. It will also install a further Segless mixer to increase production capacity of Segless.

Of the total production capacity of 110,000 metric tons per year, Segless will comprise 60,000 metric tons per year, an increase from the current 40,000 metric tons.