DuPont today announced the start up of its $500 million Cooper River Kevlar® facility near Charleston, S.C. The Cooper River Kevlar® plant uses state-of-the-art technology that will allow DuPont to meet increased customer demand for advanced protective materials in emerging industries around the world by expanding its portfolio of science-based innovations and boosting productivity. Commercial supply will begin by the end of the year.
Overall global production capacity for Kevlar® will increase initially by 25 percent and is expected to grow by 40 percent, with planned productivity improvements and continued technology developments over the next two years. The new capacity will allow DuPont to provide customers with next-generation Kevlar® products that improve their ability to innovate in many applications.
According to DuPont and independent tests, new body armor can help stop bullets within the first three layers of a vest designed with a total of 11 layers. The remaining layers absorb the energy of the bullet, resulting in 15 percent less bruising for the vest wearer. DuPont estimates that the ballistics demand is growing at more than 10 percent annually.
Best known for its use in ballistic and stab-resistant body armor, Kevlar® has helped save the lives of thousands of law enforcement and military personnel around the world.
Added protection and performance can be achieved in ballistic applications for military and police helmets and tactical plates. Critical is the reduction of the weight of helmets for soldiers and marines and for other helmet and tactical plate designs where there is higher ballistic performance and increased protection, without sacrificing other performance requirements.
“As the global population grows, there will be even more critical need for protection materials to keep people safe and to protect the environment, structures and critical processes,” said Thomas G. Powell, president, DuPont Protection Technologies. “After more than 40 years, the proven performance of Kevlar® continues to create significant new opportunities where the combination of lightweight strength and other unique properties enable new designs, increase reliability and save more lives. This significant boost in production capacity and capability demonstrates DuPont’s continuing commitment to support our customers and to find solutions that help protect more people around the world.”
Along with a recent $50 million expansion at DuPont’s Spruance plant in Richmond, Va., Cooper River represents the largest single investment in Kevlar® and the largest capacity increase since the fiber was introduced in 1965. DuPont also manufactures Kevlar® in Richmond, Va.; Maydown, Northern Ireland and at a DuPont joint venture, DuPont-Toray Company in Tokai, Japan. The Cooper River Kevlar® plant expansion has created 135 jobs and was built over a period of three years using a construction workforce of up to 800.
DuPont also has research and development facilities and customer applications centers for Kevlar® in every region: Shanghai, China; Hyderabad, India; Paulina, Brazil; Meyrin, Switzerland, Richmond, Va. and Wilmington, Del.
The Cooper River Kevlar® plant will initially produce innovations that support three primary technology platforms: DuPont™ Kevlar® AP, DuPont™ Kevlar® KM2 Plus and DuPont® Kevlar® XP™ for growing applications in ballistics, other personal protective equipment, aerospace, tires, fiber optic cables, oil and gas and automotive. Among the industry opportunities where new DuPont™ Kevlar® products already are making an impact