Success of high-efficiency electro-thermal sheet development through self-developed technology

Kukil Paper Co., Ltd. (Sun-young Shon, CEO)

Thinking outside the box has influenced a large part of human development in various forms: innovation, creation, and invention.https://korean-electronics.com//inquiry
‘Paper’, invented by Chaeryoon in the Later Han in A.D. 105, was also the result of thinking outside the box, and this great result is rated as having enormous value as a barometer of cultural transmission and cultural development beyond the value of a simple
tool for writing.
And now, centuries after, there is a movement again to do away with the stereotype of paper, and Kukil Paper’s unusual performance in that movement raises high expectations. Beyond the concept and limitation of paper that we know Kukil Paper has reconsolidated its position as the nation’s best industrial paper and special paper manufacturer, and now they have succeeded in the technical development of electro-thermal sheet and paper thread in total heat exchanger in the result of challenging whatever they can do with paper. They are thus expected to score another innovation and creation.

The nation’s best paper manufacturer specialized for special/ industrial papers

Kukil Paper is different manufacturer from other large paper companies in Korea. While woodfree paper most commonly used in notebooks or as copy papers is the main product of large paper companies, the main products of Kukil Paper are special papers or industrial papers such as cigarette filter sheet, steel sheet protective paper, and food paper. One may question that ‘Are they all paper in the end?’ But papers produced by Kukil Paper are functional paper differ from regular white paper, and they can be essential industrial materials. Therefore Kukil Paper is a distinctive paper company producing undoubtedly differentiated papers.

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Moreover, they have ‘future strategy team’ which can not befound even in large paper companies and shows Kukil Paper’s unusual effort to find future growth power. Such effort became a good stepping stone to develop ‘electro-thermal sheet’ with their own technology which has been entirely reliant on import from Japan.
Also, the success of developing electro-thermal sheet through collaboration work with Incheon National University and education foundation Clean Air Nano Tech is a model case of academicindustrial- research collaboration that has been highlighted repeatedly, which is enough to receive a favorable evaluation as a speedy responding and constitutional improvement in ever intensifying sale environment of paper companies.
In this context, CEO Sun-young Shon said that “Kukil Paper selected the niche market of special paper and industrial paper as it main business area, because the market has higher value added and more marketability sustainable as an industrial material than regular paper market like wood-free paper dominated by large paper companies. For special thin paper, we have the nation’s best technical power, even comparable in global market.”

High functional electro-thermal sheet development, great
import substitution effect

While energy-saving has been highlighted all over the world since the oil shock of the early 1970s, the structures of houses have been changed to highly sealed, highly insulated enclosed styles. But, various diseases caused by contamination of indoor air and sick building syndrome from such structure changes became a social issue, and ventilation unit entered the scene to catch two hares of energy-saving and air purification at the same time.

Ventilation units are devices that discharge contaminated indoor air to the outside, and consist of two fans, one to discharge indoor air and the other to flow in outdoor air, and a total heat exchanger that collects energy from discharging air and converts it to it to inflow air. In such processing, the most core component is the total heat exchanger.
While ventilation units are produced by some of large companies and dozens of small companies within the country, most of total heat exchangers, core component that collects heat and moisture from discharging air and deliver them to inflow air, are imported from Japan.

On this occasion, Kukil Paper succeeded in developing paper electro-thermal film for air-conditioning that is another critical component in total heat exchangers, a core component of ventilation units, and also being entirely imported from Japanese Mitsubishi Paper or Lintec. The product is praised for having excellent functions including antibiosis, fire retardance and processability as well as heat and moisture transmitting feature, which is comparable to Japanese products.

For this, Dong-hoon Kim, executive director, said that “Electro- thermal film in total heat exchanger has to have good feature for heat and moisture transmission, but metals that have good heat transmission cannot transmit moisture, whereas nonmetal polymer membranes that have outstanding moisture transmission such as Goretex, XMP, and Celgard are too expensive to be used as a material in air-conditioning total heat exchanger. Thus we decided to use paper, which is low price and has quite good heat and moisture transmission feature. But the texture should ne be high density because the heat conductivity of paper is worse than metal, and discharging air and external inflow air should not mixed through the electro-thermal film. Also, some processes are required to make the paper contains a substance having high heat conductivity or to impregnate the paper with moisture absorbent such as lithium chloride and calcium chloride, so as to remove any obstacles against moisture transmission when the texture is compact. At the same time we also need to add some functionalities including antibiosis, fire retardant, and processability. As results, we can have what Japanese companies have monopolized all the while through our company’s successful development”.

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But, despite Kukil Paper’s efforts they still have not delivered great results yet, as market-growth scale was nothing like what they estimated in the beginning of electro-thermal sheet development. In the development planning stage, it was estimated that ventilation unit would have considerable marketability, because of vigorous government moves to improve indoor air quality, such as obligation and legislation of indoor air quality notification.
So, it was expected that installation obligations of installing ventilation units would be continued for new buildings, and actually a few large and medium companies started to produce ventilation units around that time. Against the expectations, however, the obligation of installing ventilation units for new buildings is not more than a recommendation. Furthermore persistent economic recession in the construction business and lack of user’s precise recognition on product usage cycle made ventilation unit market be at a standstill. But, Kukil Paper recorded 1 trillion won sales every year even in such market stalemate, and they developed various special papers and industrial papers
through whatever they can to with papers as well as developing more efficient electro-thermal sheet based on technical power obtained from the development course, in order to achieve the goal of being truly the nation’s best special /industrial paper manufacturer.

Creating a new paradigm for paper

This drastic development of business of Kukil Paper in such market situation comes from their unusual philosophy for paper. “Most people associate paper with pulp, and consider that paper tears easily and its function is only writing something. However, such limited thought for the type and functions of paper is a stereotype, and this stereotype for paper restricts all we can do with paper” said CEO Shon, and he highlighted that “Whatever is flat, I consider it as paper. That is why we start developing electrothermal sheet. Although we cannot get a big profit, we are proud of our successful development. Having future strategic team in the company to seek new growth power and attempting to realize all the idea about what we can do with paper through convergence between industries, all of them started from new definition of paper, thinking outside the box.”
Indeed, Kukil Paper’s such unusual concept and view for paper enabled them to develop, in addition to electro-thermal sheet, fine thread with paper to make something like clothes of ramie cloth, and furthermore, pushed them to move forward developing special paper that can be used as a membrane in fuel cell. Therefore, for Kukil Paper which is creating a new paradigm for paper through challenges that not just anybody can take on, the expectations of the company will be much higher in future.

<Left: Kukil Paper’s electro-thermal sheet developed by self technology has perfect quality and function comparable to Japanese products.>

<Right: Ventilation unit and total heat exchanger electro-thermal sheet developed by Kukil Paper through academic-industrialresearch collaboration.>

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