Shin-Etsu Chemical will invest about $990 million to expand its silicones business worldwide over the next two and half years. The Japanese firm plans to spend about $450 million to expand its silicone monomer plants in Japan and Thailand, $450 million on facilities for downstream products in six countries, and $90 million on shipping facilities and other business infrastructure. Between 2013 and 2017, Shin-Etsu’s silicone sales increased by 32%, while margins swelled by 63%. The largest silicone producer in Japan, Shin-Etsu sells the materials worldwide in powder, liquid, and rubber form. They are used in applications including cosmetics, contact lenses, and solar panels. Shin-Etsu’s bold bet on its silicone business comes shortly after it made a comparably large commitment to its polyvinyl chloride business. In July, Shin-Etsu announced that its U.S. subsidiary Shintech will spend $1.5 billion in Louisiana to expand a polyvinyl chloride plant and build facilities for the raw materials vinyl chloride and chlorine.