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3/9/2011 | 1 MINUTE READ

Sixty-second cycle time for carbon composites?

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Teijin's breakthrough process uses press-forming and thermoplastics to produce carbon fiber composite parts in less than 60 seconds; the company has developed an electric vehicle concept car that uses the new carbon fiber manufacturing technology.

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Teijin Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) announced on March 9 that it has established a mass-production technology for carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), achieving a cycle time of less than one minute. Teijin’s new technologies include use of the press forming process combined with intermediate prepreg materials made of thermoplastic resin instead of conventional thermosetting resin. Teijin reports that it also has developed welding technologies that can join thermoplastic CFRP parts and bond thermoplastic CFRP with metals, which will help to reduce the use of metal in manufacturing processes. Teijin says it 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.

Teijin says it has developed three intermediate materials, each of carbon fiber impregnated with thermoplastic resin, 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 intermediate materials include:

  • Unidirectional intermediate: ultrahigh strength in a certain direction.
  • Isotropic intermediate: a balance between shape flexibility and multidirectional strength.
  • Long-fiber thermoplastic pellet: a high-strength pellet made from carbon fiber, used for injection molding of complex parts.

To demonstrate its new technologies, Teijin has developed an electric-vehicle (EV) concept car (see photo) that features a cabin frame made entirely from thermoplastic CFRP and weighing only 47 kg/104 lb, or roughly one-fifth the weight of a conventional automobile cabin frame. The four-seat EV is capable of speeds up to 60 kmh/37 mph and has a cruising range of 100 km/62 miles. (Another four-seat EV concept with a CFRP passenger cell, from SGL/BMW, was on display at the JEC Composites show (see our “JEC Paris highlights” link at right).

Teijin says it will use the concept to introduce its technologies to automakers and parts suppliers and to promote joint automotive lightweighting initiatives. Teijin aims to establish new midstream and downstream business models for its carbon fiber composites business by supplying CFRP parts to the market.

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