A Kolon Industries official checks the quality of aramid fibers at its plant in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province.(Kolon Industries)
Thanks to President Moon Jae-in’s push for the 5G network, Korean chemical companies are getting an unexpected boost as demand has surged for aramid, a material used for bulletproof vests and a vital ingredient for 5G cables.
As part of Moon’s Digital New Deal initiative, the nation’s major telecommunications firms -- SK Telecom, KT, LG U+ and SK Broadband -- said last month they would invest 25 trillion won ($21 billion) to establish a nationwide 5G network by the first half of 2022, three years ahead of schedule, a major boon for aramid manufacturers such as Kolon Industries and Hyosung Advanced Materials.
Aramid fiber, five times stronger and lighter than steel, exhibits a high strength-to-weight ratio, with a 5-millimeter-thick aramid thread able to lift a 2-ton car. For this reason, telecommunications firms use aramid fibers to support the durability of optical fibers inside 5G cables and prevent sagging in those cables.
“Aramid products are sold out the moment they are made, so supply is falling far behind demand,” an industry source said.
When Kolon and Hyosung announced their second-quarter results recently, both mentioned that demand for aramid has been consistent due to the installation of 5G optic cables nationwide.
After adding a second production line in the first quarter, Kolon’s aramid production capacity now stands at 7,500 tons, from 5,000 tons last year.
Hyosung will complete its expansion by the first half of 2021 to increase its aramid production capacity to 3,700 tons from the current 1,200 tons.
By Kim Byung-wook (email@example.com)