Toray, Daimler to develop carbon fiber composite auto structures

The two companies plan to promote the joint development of carbon fiber automobile components by using High Cycle Resin Transfer Molding (RTM), a molding process technology developed by Toray.

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Carbon fiber manufacturer Toray Industries Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) has signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with German automobile manufacturer Daimler AG (Stuttgart, Germany) to develop automobile parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP).

The two companies plan to promote the joint development of diverse CFRP automobile components by using High Cycle Resin Transfer Molding (RTM), a CFRP molding process technology developed by Toray. Under the agreement, Toray, in addition to developing optimal CFRP materials, will handle design and molding processes, with Daimler responsible for developing technologies for joining of the parts. By bringing together respective technologies, the companies plan to develop a molding method with a very short molding cycle. The companies aim for adoption of the newly developed parts in Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz model within next three years.

As the world's largest manufacturer of carbon fiber, Toray has identified expansion of its carbon fiber composite materials business in the automotive field as one of its top priorities. In June 2008, the company established the Automotive Center (AMC), a development base for automotive applications, and a center for developing technology and applications for CFRP products, the Advanced Composite Center (ACC) in April 2009. These centers serve as the core entities of the A&A (Automotive & Aircraft) Center in Nagoya, Japan, its comprehensive technology development center for automotive and aircraft applications, and are involved in the development of optimal materials and processes for automotive applications.

Daimler has set a target of reducing the weight of the body-in-white up to 10 percent for all models under its Mercedes-Benz series compared with its existing models, with the aim of improving fuel efficiency and reducing exhaust gas emissions. Professor Bharat Balasubramanian, head of Product Innovations and Process Technologies at Daimler, explains the lightweight construction strategy: "We have a clearly defined objective to reduce the body-in-white weight by up to 10 percent compared with the respective predecessor model. In this way, we can more than offset the weight gain associated with additional safety and comfort features as well as the new components used in alternative drive systems. Weight reduction is particularly important to us because of the role it plays in our efforts to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.”

Through this collaboration with Daimler AG, Toray aims to establish mass production technology for CFRP auto parts and further expand its carbon fibers and advanced composites business in the automobile field.

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