Teijin Ltd has announced that it has established the world's first mass production technologies for carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP). The company claims it can mould a vehicle cabin frame in under 60 seconds.
Teijin's new technologies are based on thermoplastic resin instead of conventional thermosetting resin. The company has also developed technologies for welding thermoplastic CFRP parts together and for bonding CFRP with materials such as steel.
Going forward, Teijin, a leading producer of carbon fibre, intends to develop mass production applications for CFRP in cars and other items that require certain levels of structural strength, such as machine tools and industrial robots.
Carbon fibre thermoplastics
By impregnating carbon fibre with thermoplastic resin, Teijin has 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 ( PP ) and polyamide ( PA ). The materials:
- unidirectional (UD) intermediate -offering ultra-high strength in a certain direction;
- isotropic intermediate - offering optimum balance of shape flexibility and multidirectional strength; and
- long fibre thermoplastic pellets - high-strength pellets incorporating carbon fibre suitable for injection moulding of complex parts.
Using these new materials, Teijin developed its technology for the press moulding of CFRP within just 60 seconds. The technology also is simpler than conventional methods, the company says.
Teijin reports that conventional CFRP using thermosetting resin requires at least 5 minutes for moulding. Although suitable for manufacture of high-performance vehicles, this technology is not suited for mass production of general-purpose cars, which require moulding times within about 1 minute.
Teijin has also developed technologies for welding thermoplastic CFRP parts together, and for bonding CFRP with materials such as steel.
To demonstrate its new technologies, Teijin has developed an electric vehicle (EV) concept car that features a cabin frame made entirely from carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic and weighing only 47 kg (roughly one fifth the weight of a conventional car¡¯s cabin frame).
The Teijin four-seat EV concept car is capable of speeds up to 60 km/hour and has a cruising range of 100 km.
Teijin will use the concept car to introduce its technologies to car makers and parts suppliers, and also to promote joint initiatives to develop lighter vehicles.
Teijin also aims to establish new midstream and downstream business models for its carbon fibre composites business by supplying CFRP parts to the market.
Teijin and carbon fibre
Automobiles and aircraft are key growth markets for Teijin and it has been developing CFRP for use in these sectors through its Teijin Composites Innovation Centre and Toho Tenax, the core company of Teijin's carbon fibre business.
Looking ahead, the Teijin Group, headquartered in Japan, 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 1 April a new business group named the Carbon Fibers and Composites Business Group, by integrating its current business units for carbon fibres and composite materials.
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