MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL CORP.'s blueprint for getting its North American production operations back on a money-making track also reportedly includes changes at its WESTERN LITHO PLATE & SUPPLY CO., INC. A maker of lithographic plates, platemaking chemicals and platemaking machines acquired in 1987, the company has been in the red for the last several years because of stiff price competition in the U.S. market. To lower manufacturing costs, Mitsubishi Chemical apparently plans to consolidate production now done at Western Litho's St. Louis plant with the output of a facility in Jacksonville, Texas. Japan's biggest chemical manufacturer has two other American projects in the works that it believes will become profit centers in the medium term. One is a $100 million synthetic paper plant that it built with OJI-YUKA SYNTHETIC PAPER CO., LTD. Located in Chesapeake, Virginia, the factory will be operational in October. It will be able to turn out 11,000 tons of moisture-resistant paper per year. The other is a $25 million facility in Mansfield, Texas that later this year will begin to produce ultrapure chemicals for the semiconductor industry.
Expanding an existing relationship, FUJI PHOTO FILM CO., LTD. signed a five-year contract with PRESSTEK, INC. for the Hudson, New Hampshire company to make for worldwide sale under the Fuji Film trade name its PEARLsetter direct-to-plate system and consumables. PEARL is a proprietary nonphotographic, toxic-free, digital imaging and printing plate technology for the printing and graphic arts industries. A thermal laser diode system, it can image various types of Presstek printing plates either off the press or on the press to produce high-quality, full-color lithographic printed materials. Fuji Film will begin distribution later this year.
An exchange rate of ¥141=$1.00 was used in this report.