TENCEL® has turned 20. The first large production facility for lyocell fibers was put into operation in Mobile/Alabama (USA) in 1992. Today the Lenzing Group manufactures TENCEL® fibers at three sites located in Austria, Great Britain and the USA. Lenzing celebrated this anniversary by holding a commemorative ceremony and a customer symposium.
20 years ago the TENCEL® plant in Mobile was the first large-scale industrial production site in the world for the new lyocell fibers. The factory was originally built by the British company Courtaulds plc., a former Lenzing competitor. Lenzing also took over this facility within the context of the acquisition of the Tencel Group in the year 2004. In recent years it has been technologically upgraded, and annual production capacity was increased to the current level of about 50,000 tons of TENCEL® fibers. Today Lenzing manufactures TENCEL® fibers at three sites: Heiligenkreuz (Austria) with an annual capacity of 60,000 tons, Grimsby (Great Britain), featuring a capacity of approx. 40,000 tons each year, and the Mobile, Alabama plant. A fourth production plant is currently being constructed in Lenzing (Upper Austria). Total annual capacity will amount to 60,000 tons, and the facility will be the first second-generation TENCEL® plant from a technological perspective.
On the occasion of the special commemorative ceremony, Lenzing CEO Peter Untersperger emphasized the tremendous importance of the TENCEL® technology. “TENCEL® has been the biggest technological step forward in the man-made cellulose fiber industry since the invention of viscose fibers about 100 years ago. The development of the fiber over the last 20 years only marks the beginning of a success story which will continue for many decades to come. TENCEL® ideally combines the need for competitive production costs compared to other fibers with the requirement of ensuring sustainable, environmentally compatible production. TENCEL® is a breakthrough technology, and I am proud that the Lenzing Group is by far the world’s number one provider of TENCEL® fibers.“
The beginnings: a competitive race between giants
The initial phase in the development of lyocell fibers (marketed by Lenzing today exclusively under the brand name TENCEL®) was characterized by a bitter rivalry between the Lenzing Group and Courtaulds. Both companies conducted research in competition with each other to become the first of the two firms to launch promising new fibers on the marketplace. At the production start in Mobile in 1992, Courtaulds had a competitive edge, but Lenzing’s first large-scale lyocell factory in Heiligenkreuz (Burgenland) was already in the pipeline. It was successfully put into operation in 1996. In 2004, Lenzing finally acquired the Tencel Group and all its production sites.
The merger of Tencel and Lenzing led to a bundling of their collective strengths. The two-way know- how exchange and the decision to consolidate research and development on TENCEL® fibers at one site finally led to the sought-after breakthrough on the marketplace for the new generation of fibers. The range of applications was expanded, and the TENCEL® business subsequently developed very dynamically, spreading from the USA to Europe and Asia.
At the present time TENCEL® fibers are used by the textile industry as well as for nonwovens. The production process is particularly environmentally compatible, and is characterized by the nearly complete recovery of the deployed solvent.
Lenzing is continuously developing new applications in cooperation with customers and partners. The optimal moisture management of TENCEL® fibers makes them attractive for use in home textiles such as mattresses, quilts and bed linen as well sportswear and women’s outerwear. TENCEL® is also integrated into sensitive segments such as cosmetics, hygiene, and medicine, for example in wound dressings and baby wipes. In the technical segment, TENCEL® is used, for example, to strengthen plastics or to manufacture electrotechnical components.
The Lenzing Group
The Lenzing Group is a world market leader with headquarters in Austria, production sites in all major markets as well as a worldwide network of sales and marketing offices. Lenzing supplies the global textile and nonwovens industry with high-quality man-made cellulose fibers and is the leading supplier in many business-to-business markets. The portfolio ranges from dissolving pulp, standard and specialty cellulose fibers to high-quality plastic polymer products and engineering services.
Lenzing quality and innovative strength set global standards for man-made cellulose fibers. With more than 70 years of experience in fiber production, the Lenzing Group is the only company worldwide combining the manufacturing of all three man-made cellulose fiber generations on a large industrial scale under one roof – from the classic viscose to modal and lyocell (TENCEL®) fibers. The success of the Lenzing Group is based on a unique combination of consistent customer orientation together with its leadership in innovation, technology and quality. Our successful specialization strategy and an outstanding cost position are the basis for our economic strength.
Lenzing is committed to the principle of sustainable management and very high environmental standards. Lenzing's core business fibers is complemented by our activities in the business fields plastics and engineering.
Key Figures Lenzing Group 2011:
Sales: EUR 2.14 bn
Export share: 91.5%
Fiber production: 705,100 tons
For more info please contact:
Head of Corporate Communications
Phone: +43 (0) 7672 701-2713