Toho Tenax to develop CFRP springs for railcar trucks

The new mass-production system will enable the Kawasaki's railcar truck to be marketed on a global scale.

The new mass-production system will enable the Kawasaki's railcar truck to be marketed on a global scale.

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Toho Tenax Co., Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan), the core company of the Teijin Group's carbon fibers and composites business, will work with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) to jointly develop a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) leaf spring that can be mass-produced for railcar trucks. The leaf spring was initially developed in 2013 and is already used in Kawasaki’s new-generation railcar truck, the efWING.

Toho Tenax will help establish an integrated system encompassing everything from the carbon fiber’s original yarn to the actual CFRP leaf springs. The new mass-production system will enable the efWING to be marketed on a global scale.

“Teijin Group is accelerating its downstream strategy by leveraging its high-performance carbon fiber, with one such result being this joint development with Kawasaki Heavy Industries,” said Teijin Group Executive Officer Takashi Yoshino, who is also general manager of the group’s carbon fibers & composites business unit and president of Toho Tenax. “Teijin Group aims to expand its carbon fiber and composite businesses by increasingly focusing on innovative transportation solutions, a key element focus of our downstream strategy.”

Conventional railcar trucks use side frames and independent coil springs made of steel, but the efWING is reportedly the world’s first to combine these components in a simplified solution made of CFRP. The lighter materials and simplified design help to reduce the truck frame’s weight by some 900kg per railcar. Benefits include more efficient running costs and lower CO2 emissions, as well as the reduction in the risk of wheel derailment.