Teijin sets up mass production technologies for carbon fiber reinforced plastic, says new technology significantly cuts cycle time for molding automobile cabin frames to less than a minute
March 10, 2011
– Teijin Limited announced today that it has established the world's first mass production technologies for carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), achieving a significant reduction of the cycle time required for molding automobile cabin frame to less than one minute. The breakthrough overcomes one of the biggest challenges in the industry and represents a long stride toward the use of carbon fiber for the mass production of automobiles and other products.
Teijin's new technologies include intermediate materials made of thermoplastic resin instead of conventional thermosetting resin for molding-use CFRP. Teijin also developed technologies for welding thermoplastic CFRP parts together and for bonding CFRP with materials such as steel, both of which will help to reduce the use of metal in manufacturing processes.
Going forward, Teijin intends to develop mass production applications for CFRP in automobiles and many other items that require certain levels of structural strength, such as machine tools and industrial robots.
New Intermediate Materials
By impregnating carbon fiber with thermoplastic resin, Teijin developed three intermediate materials for the production of CFRP suited for use in mass-production vehicles. The materials can be used selectively depending on the required strength and cost of the part, and they can be made with various thermoplastic resins, including polypropylene and polyamide. The new intermediate materials are as follows:
- Unidirectional intermediate: ultrahigh strength in a certain direction.
- Isotropic intermediate: optimum balance of shape flexibility and multidirectional strength.
- Long-fiber thermoplastic pellet: high-strength pellet made from carbon fiber, suited for injection molding of complex parts.
Using these new intermediate materials, Teijin developed its unprecedented new technologies for the press molding of CFRP within just one minute's time. The technology also is simpler than conventional methods. In addition, Teijin developed technologies for welding thermoplastic CFRP parts together, and also for bonding CFRP with materials such as steel.
Electric-Vehicle Concept Car
To demonstrate its new cutting-edge technologies, Teijin has developed an electric-vehicle (EV) concept car that features a cabin frame made entirely from thermoplastic CFRP and weighing only 47 kilograms, or roughly one fifth the weight of a conventional automobile's cabin frame. The four-seat EV, which is capable of speeds up to 60 km/hour and has a cruising range of 100 km, embodies Teijin’s vision of super-lightweight EVs made with CFRP.
Teijin will use the concept car to introduce its technologies to automakers and parts suppliers, and also to promote joint initiatives to develop lighter automobiles. Teijin also aims to establish new midstream and downstream business models for its carbon-fiber composites business by supplying CFRP parts to the market.
With automotive exhaust regulations becoming increasingly strict, there is a mounting need to reduce vehicle weights by using materials such as CFRP, a lightweight material that can be used for many components made conventionally with steel or aluminum.
The Teijin Group, which has positioned automobiles and aircraft as one of its key growth markets, has been developing CFRP for such applications through collaboration between the Teijin Composites Innovation Center and Toho Tenax, the core company of the group's carbon fibers business.
Conventional CFRP utilizes thermosetting resin and requires at least five minutes for molding, so it is not suited for mass production applications that require molding within about one minute, such as the production of general-purpose automobiles. This is why CFRP has been limited to use in high-end vehicles.
Looking ahead, the Teijin Group aims to accelerate its expansion of advanced composite materials, one of the pillars of the group's long-term growth strategy. To this end, Teijin will establish on April 1 a new business group, named the Carbon Fibers and Composites Business Group, by integrating its current business units for carbon fibers and composite materials.
About the Teijin Group
Based in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, Teijin is a global technology-driven group operating in eight main fields: aramid fibers, carbon fibers, polyester fibers, plastics, films, medical & pharmaceuticals, fiber products marketing and IT businesses. Teijin Limited, the holding company for the Teijin Group, is listed on the Tokyo and Osaka stock exchanges. The group had consolidated sales of USD 8.5 billion (JPY 765.8 billion, USD 1=JPY 90) in fiscal 2009 and employs 18,778 people worldwide, with 156 companies around the world.